Across the country, communities and housing associations are finding themselves in heated debates over what would otherwise be a rather banal subject: drying clothes. Some want to use clotheslines, but others worry about plummeting property values.
"To Susan Taylor, it was a perfect time to hang her laundry out to dry. The 55-year-old mother and part-time nurse strung a clothesline to a tree in her backyard, pinned up some freshly washed flannel sheets -- and, with that, became a renegade."
"The regulations of the subdivision in which Ms. Taylor lives effectively prohibit outdoor clotheslines. In a move that has torn apart this otherwise tranquil community, the development's managers have threatened legal action. To the developer and many residents, clotheslines evoke the urban blight they sought to avoid by settling in the Oregon mountains."
"'This bombards the senses,' interior designer Joan Grundeman says of her neighbor's clothesline. 'It can't possibly increase property values and make people think this is a nice neighborhood.'"
"Nationwide, about 60 million people now live in about 300,000 'association governed' communities, most of which restrict outdoor laundry hanging, says Frank Rathbun, spokesman for the Community Associations Institute, an Alexandria, Va., group that lobbies on behalf of homeowners associations."
"But the rules are costly to the environment -- and to consumers -- clothesline advocates argue. Clothes dryers account for 6% of total electricity consumed by U.S. households, third behind refrigerators and lighting, according to the Residential Energy Consumption Survey by the federal Energy Information Administration."