Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Laundry on Lawns, Couches on Porches

Laundry on Lawns

The Great Neck, NY village board has banned the hanging of laundry on front lawns, making it a violation punishable by up to $1,000 and 15 days in jail.

"Frankly, I think it's rather disconcerting for people to come into a neighborhood and view on the front-filled lawn of someone's home, various articles of clothing, undergarments, what have you, flapping in the breeze," said Trustee Mark Birnbaum.
The Town of Southhampton previously had such an ordinance, although theirs also banned clotheslines in the back yards of waterfront homes, presumably to protect the delicate sensibilities of boaters in bathing suits.  The Southhampton ordinance was repealed after a grass roots 'laundry-rights activist' movement, with one of their tactics being the hanging of negligee in the town's trees.

Couches on Porches 

Next on the agenda for the village board are couches on porches.

"I just think it's one of those things that adds to the shabbiness," Trustee Barton Sobel said.

The Proper Role of Government 

First, I'm inclined to defer to local government on matters such as these, as the appropriate forum to address such matters.  I tend to agree with the front-yard laundry ban, although I find the fine and potential punishment to be a bit excessive given the 'crime'.  I'm a little confused as to the issue with couches, although I suppose my opinion would be entirely influenced by the couch.  I really don't see the couchs as a problem.

I grew up in a blue-collar neighborhood inhabited predominately by Italian and Irish families.  I can recall the scandal, I don't think it was illegal, when Greek immigrants began moving in and replacing their roses, hydrangeas, and peonies with tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant.  Never really understood what the fuss was all about at the time, although several years later a Vietnamese family moved in and replaced their entire front lawn with a farm.


I am less sympathetic to those with HOA issues, as more often than not the rules were in place when they purchased, had they only bothered to read them.  I'm not fond of HOAs, and would prefer to purchase a home without one, but could easily live with one if I had to.  My current home is subject to an HOA, although if I have any complaints it is more due to lack of enforcement than over enforcement.  We don't have a lot of rules, but there is one house we refer to as Fort Wilderness, with an eight foot high wall build of scrap lumber out front, probably wouldn't look so bad if he knew what a level was.  It's been vandalized twice with 'honk if I'm ugly'.  Doesn't bother me that much, but then again, I don't live across the street from it and only have to look at it as I drive by.

Laundry: Yes, Couches: No ?

So, what are your opinions on issues such as these?  Excessive?  Appropriate?  Feel free to share your local or HOA stories.

I do recall a story of a man who owned a vineyard who was sued by neighbors for erecting a hedge that blocked their view of the vineyard.  Never heard how it came out though.




Always On Watch said...

I grew up in the days when few had clothes dryers -- other than a clothesline, that is. None of us ever had our clotheslines on the front yard; instead, the clotheslines were in the side yard or the back yard.

As for couches on the front porch, nice ones, particularly wicker ones, should not be objectionable.

Here in Northern Virginia in the little area where I live, we don't have an HOA. We do, however, have the zoning-enforcement Nazis. God help you if you leave out so much as a sprinkling can or an unused ladder for more than 48 hours. The same thing applies to your own car parked in your own driveway: you have to move that car at least every 48 hours. I kid you not! The zoning Nazis assume that you have an enclosed garage -- even though some of us do not have a garage or a carport, particularly those of us who live in houses build before the 1980s. Getting the permits to build such structures is costly -- thousands of dollars. The local government has both a phone number and a web page so that neighbors can anonymously snitch on violators. Furthermore, the county code changes so often that one cannot keep up with the changes: what was legal to do one day is illegal to do the next day.

In some parts of California, you can't park a car on the street more than 48 hours without moving the car. Again, I kid you not!

Property owners have their property rights infringed upon in such situations.

rncscab said...

We're fortunate to live in a Maryland neighborhood not subject to any neighborhood association or covenants. There are a couple of dumpy looking houses filled with junk, but I really could care less. They're more the exception than the rule. And if that ever changes, I'll just move.

FreeThinke said...

All right, McScab, but by that the time "that" happens, in all likelihood you will no longer be able to get a decent price for your home, and may be forced to put yourself at a financial disadvantage in order to escape the "slumification" of your surroundings.

FreeThinke said...

AOW, I hate all of that too -- because it gives the mean-spirited, and petty-minded a endless opportunity to do their worst, HOWEVER, I do believe that communities ought to establish and maintain standards in order to protect the value of property.

Lots of people own houses who have no business owning a house, because they neither know -- nor care to learn -- how to love, maintain and enhance the aesthetic appeal of real estate.

Such people would be much better off in a condominium.

When all is said and done it's about exercising CONSIDERATION for other peoples' feelings.

If people made it their business to be more aware -- and more sensitive -- to the needs and feelings of others, there would be no need -- no EXCUSE -- for all the petty, Draconian regulations we dislike so intensely.

As one of my dear departed relatives was fond of saying:

"Laws are never made till they are broken."

FreeThinke said...

Funny you should bring this up today, Finntann! I just had occasion yesterday to visit a house I bought last year, renovated at considerable expense, and rented to people I know pretty well at a nominal rate. I like these people and went to the trouble to furnish it carefully and tastefully. When they moved in last October, the place looked like a model home. Really did, and I pictures to prove it.

Well, to make a long sorry short the place has been kept clean, and the elegant furniture has not been abused, but they've brought in so much CLUTTER -- I mean MOUNTAINS of out-and-out CRAP -- the high quality atmosphere lovingly established for them has been completely demolished.

No house could ever have too much storage space, and admittedly this one doesn't have quite enough. It was built in 1940, has a beautiful layout, a nice big living room (24' x 14'!), 3 BR and a large sunroom, BUT no garage, no shed and small closets by today's gargantuan standards.

The question I ask The Court is "What makes people want to collect so many ugly things they use very little-if-at-all, and why can't they realize that nothing evokes an atmosphere of poverty and desperation more than a property loaded with JUNK?

AOW mention wicker sofas, which I too find more-than acceptable on porches. Wicker was MADE for porches, but UPHOLSTERED furniture was definitely not, and I completely sympathize with a ban on limpy, saggy, stained, mildew-ridden, rump-sprung sofas visible from any road or sidewalk.

NOTHING spells "REDNECK" more clearly than a house in desperate need of a paint job with rotting indoor furniture, dented, rusting unusable old appliances, wrecked cars, jalopies and pick-up trucks, and old toilets or rubber tires used as planters for geraniums and the like scattered willy nilly over a front yard overgrown with weeds.

Slums are made by people who have no respect for themselves -- and especially none for their neighbors.

Before the Scourge of the Sixties overtook us, we in the middle and upper classes had established standards of good taste, common sense and common decency. Then a gross misunderstanding of "egalitarianism" was adopted.


Instead of bringing the poor and downtrodden UP, it has brought too many of the REST of us DOWN.

When Anything Goes, EVERYTHING goes along with it.


shawkenawe said...

There is nothing that evokes childhood memories like cold sheets just brought in from the backyard clothesline. On winter days, we younger daughters had to unclothespin them from the lines and bring the sheets, stiff as cardboard from the frozen water in their still-damp cotton fibers, into the kitchen. These many years later, I remember the cold, silvery smell of those sheets, which we then brought to the basement to finish drying and then placed on the stripped beds--which we changed, faithfully, every Saturday morning. My step-mother never owned a dryer, even when she was offered one many times. She preferred to hang the clothes outdoor so that the sun and fresh air did their work of bleaching and filling those bed sheets with that sharp, yet welcoming, cold comfort.

conservativesonfire said...

Too much of a good thing is never enough. When it it comes to zoning or HOA we don't know when to stop. When does reasonable become unreasonable?

rncscab said...

C'est la vie. I bought into the property knowing what could happen. Life doesn't come with guarantee's, no matter who you are stupid enough to vote for.

FreeThinke said...

I remember the days of the clothes line and the clothes umbrella, Ms Shaw. When I was little, it was fun to be out in the sun and air to help hand out clothespins as needed or to fold wash and take it in after it had dried.

No one we knew even had a washing machine let alone a dryer -- just twin tubs in the basement, wicker baskets and a big bag full of wooden clothespins -- both the clip on kind and the slip on kind. Mother preferred the former, a great aunt who lived a few blocks away the latter.

Those two great ladies also spent days each fall making and canning preserves from apples and berries grown on our properties. They put them up in mason jars sealed with paraffin. They even went so far as to make homemade tomato juice from their gardens, and believe me it was the best tasting tomato juice I've ever had. There's nothing like it available commercially.

I remember feeling so proud when they let me help write the names of each good thing on the labels they stuck on each jar.

Wonderful memories of a lives well spent!

But I have to tell you, my mother was ecstatic when father bought our first Bendix -- the round, front-loading model that had to be bolted into a concrete platform to keep it from chasing you all over the basement laundry room.

Soon after that came the Hamilton gas-powered dryer, that meant no one ever had to worry about rain on washday anymore.

Still, despite these new found conveniences, some of the charm and vitality disappeared from domestic life after these things entered our lives.

Our city relatives had wooden drying racks over their bathtubs that folded neatly into discreet metal cabinets when not in use.

The only trouble with that was no one could take a bath or shower till after the wash had dried!

FreeThinke said...

It's that near-fatal impulse to TYRANNIZE lurking every human being. It's present wherever two or three are gathered together for ANY purpose.

That's why "Big Government" -- the concentration of absolute power in the hands of a Central Oligarchical Regime -- is just about THE Greatest Evil on Earth.

If we can't get along with the PTA, the Church, the Boy Scouts, or our own HOA's, how in hell could anyone imagine we could get along with anything as arbitrary and ruthless as an Almighty Federal Government?

The more DIFFUSE power becomes, the better chance we have of living pleasant individual lives -- and vice versa.

Lester Liberalmann said...

You don't mention that this town is a tourist destination and it's to their economic benefit to keep the place tidy.

Leticia said...

Maybe the should hang their clothes in the backyard, if they have one and as for the couch, kind of tacky. Lawn chairs, a porch swing or chairs are better suited for a porch.

There are a lot of people who simply cannot afford a dryer or even a washer, let alone going to a laundry mat, that can get very expensive, so what choice do they have?

FreeThinke said...

My biggest pet peeve with HOA's is "selective enforcement." Some are al,owed to "get away with murder" just because they're affable, good-looking and poplar with the "laid-ease," others are read the riot act for leaving their garbage cans out one minute past noon on collection day.

God help you if you should change the color of your front door without first groveling before The Tribunal.

BUT it's worth it, because we dont have to put up with neighbors parking big boats, travel trailers or huge campers in their driveways -- or, or a fleet of crap cars permanently stationed in front of their houses, etc.

If you want to live in a classy neighborhood, and have paid the price to do it, I think you ought to able to escape "slumification."

Finntann said...

Uh...yeah. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that it is to the economic benefit of those that own businesses that cater to tourists. I live in a tourist destination and have nothing to do with tourists... frankly, it would be much nicer if you all stayed home. Nothing personal ;)

Finntann said...

My mother also hung the wash out to dry out back, frantically moving it to the basement when rain threatened. There were a couple of houses in which laundry was hung in the side yard, visible from the street, yet I don't think anyone took offense at it being visible from the street. No one hung laundry in the front yard.

Honestly, I think air/sun dried laundry comes out smelling clean, as opposed to smelling like the artificial scents in fabric softener sheets. Regrettably neither my wife nor I have the time to actually tend to, and air dry our laundry.

Curiously, when I lived in Korea, most apartments and houses had long narrow rooms, sort of like a sun room, no wider than a hallway, specifically for drying laundry (or so the realtor explained to me). Mine had washer and dryer hookups, but I would occasionally hang the odd garment up to dry if I wasn't doing a full load. It was, to me, a rather odd thing, and honestly the space was too narrow to use for anything else.

Mine was behind my kitchen, and there were windows in the kitchen that opened into the space so you still got light and air. The windows in the 'laundry room' where more like screened sliding glass doors, except they were four feet off the ground (the room easily had ten foot ceilings). There was a stackable washer and dryer at one end, and the furnace room at the other, with about fifteen feet of space between them. My initial thought was it would be a great place to grow plants, but I never saw them used, by either Koreans or Americans, for anything other than laundry or storage.


Finntann said...

My mother always used the slip on kind.

Finntann said...

When I lived in New Mexico I looked at a fairly nice home on a five acre lot that was a Farmer's Home Mortgage repo at an unimaginably decent price. The house was wonderful, the landscaping was wonderful, yet with Fred Sanford on one side and Lamont on the other, we decided we'd be better off elsewhere. I didn't want to look out a gorgeous picture window at the Sacramento Mountains along with rusting washing machines, refrigerators, tires, and other assorted detritus of modern life.

viburnum said...

I don't have a problem with HOA's, as I figure you signed off on them when you bought the property. My pet peeve is people who move out to the country and then complain about being here.

When we first moved my in laws in here years ago I came home one June day to find her ecstatic that, "That lazy s.o.b. up at the corner finally mowed his lawn." It was all I could do to stop laughing long enough to explain to her that he was actually a rather hard working farmer, and the 65 acres of timothy and orchard grass she was complaining about was a hay field.

A friend of mine who is an equine vet finally moved his practice after years of incessant complaints about the smell of horses that started when the adjacent property was sold and developed into condominiums.
It's become so bad that some states are passing "Right to Farm" laws just to shut the whiners up. Apparently the old adage of caveat emptor is no longer enough.

Finntann said...

True story from a guy I work with. He lives in a nice neighborhood with an HOA, and the HOA is responsible for trash pickup, the fees coming out of the HOA dues. The HOA was behind in its payments to the trash company and they stopped picking up the trash. My friend got a notice from the HOA for having trash on the curb... they actually expected him to take it to the dump himself, WHILE paying the HOA for trash service.

Even better... we both worked with his HOA President. Talk about awkward, LOL.

Finntann said...

Happens everywhere. I was stationed at an Air Force Base that had opened in 1935. When they built houses at the end of the runway fifty years later, the occupants actually had the gall to complain about the noise and wanted the base shut down. It's not a military thing either, they do the same thing at commercial and civil airfields.

Jersey McJones said...

Local zoning, unfortunately, sometimes reflects some of our worst personal hang-ups and snobbiness.

Rather than pass laws to handle such things, just have a couple neighbors or community VIPs sit down with a family that is offending some uptight sensibilities, and see if they can work things out.

That's how culture is made in the first place, right?

Besides, don't have property rights in this country?

It's one thing to burn heaps of plastic, or dump gallons of used cleaning or lubricating fluids, or shoot guns in the air, or to blare music, or to howl obscenities at the moon every night.

It's another thing to hang some laundry.

Heck, I'd rather see laundry on a line than a Confederate flag flying over it. But either way, I wouldn't want the law to enforce my peccadilloes. Besides, unless the laundry is really smelly, in no way has the hangers rights come near my nose. ;)


viburnum said...

Dayglo Orange would suck, but I recall a story from about ten years ago where a couple somewhere in Jersey ( Princeton? Flemington? ) had their neighbors, and the local zoning board up in arms after painting one of those great old Victorian houses lavender with violet trim. They wound up going to court and proved that the colors were historically accurate as our ancestors were apparently enamoured of gaudy colors.

Always On Watch said...

I do believe that communities ought to establish and maintain standards in order to protect the value of property.

To a very limited extent.

When I wanted to build a privacy fence here, the county official told me, "Pay the $5000 feasibility fee, and then we'll tell you what kind of fence you can build -- and how high and where."

I live in a farmhouse. All around me are cookie cutter houses and yards. I am being pressured to conform. But, hell, my family was here first.

All these pressures to conform are an assault on the ownership of private property.

Always On Watch said...

BUT it's worth it...

Not to the Nazi-zoning-enforcement extent!

It's one thing to knowingly move into a neighborhood with a lot of regulations. But it's quite another thing to have the regulations changing on a frequent basis.

I have a lot of improvement that I'd like to make here. The county Nazis will not allow me to do so. They are more interested in "uniformity"!

FreeThinke said...

I sympathize with you, AOW, but you're not dealing with an HOA, you are dealing with the prevailing mentality of the Washington, DE Metropolitan Area, which is nearly 100% liberal, and therefore nearly 100% inclined toward making and enforcing increasingly draconian, petty, mean-spirited, despotic rules and regulations designed to hamstring the populace into submission to arbitrary dictatorship.

I think we all ought to move to places like Cadiz, Ohio, a virtual ghost town today that has seen no growth and no progress since Clark Gable was born there a century ago.

BUT it is a dilemma: Do we want to live free in Dogpatch, or submit to rules and regulations reflecting standards that would enable us to enjoy elegant, high class living in places like Greenwich, Connecticut, Southampton, New York, Hinsdale, Illinois, or La Jolla, California?

As a supposedly free people, we OUGHT to be able to make that choice and not have our choices either way infringed on by belligerent forms of arbitrary authority.

The way YOU have been treated is outrageous, AOW.

Always On Watch said...

There is no HOA in my neighborhood precisely because it is an unplanned community, that is, an area that developed over time from farmhouse country. Much of Northern Virginia is along those lines.