Governor Brown Signs New Law Prohibiting Restrictions On Clotheslines


California homeowner associations can no longer prohibit the drying of clothes on outdoor clotheslines after Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill restricting homeowners associations from banning same. This legislation was opposed by a number of groups who felt that clotheslines are unsightly additions to neighborhoods.

Assemblywoman Patty López (D-San Fernando) announced Brown signed her bill, AB 1448, which will allow line drying for people once restricted by their property management organizations or homeowner associations.

“Growing up, my family and many of my neighbors used clotheslines as the way to dry their clothes and other laundry,” López said in a statement. “Californians can now do their part for the environment while saving money on their electric bill by using the sunlight to dry their laundry.”

The bill, titled “Personal energy conservation; real property restrictions” is meant to serve as a victory to conservationists and frugal Californians alike by allowing them to save money and energy.

AB 1448 adds new section 4750.10 to the Civil Code/Davis Stirling Act. While California homeowners associations must allow residents to air-dry their clothes, this new law only allows them to do this in their own backyard. New Civil Code Section 4750.10 will define a “clothesline” as including a cord, rope, or wire from which laundered items may be hung to dry. The good news is that this new law specifically prohibits a balcony, railing, awning, or other part of a structure from being part of a clothesline.

New Civil Code Section 4750.10 will allow California community associations to adopt reasonable restrictions on clotheslines and drying racks. It defines “reasonable restriction” as one that does not significantly increase the cost of using a clothesline or drying rack. We do not know what “reasonable” and “significant” means yet, and this will likely be defined by common sense and the courts.

New Civil Code Section 4750.10 goes into effect January 1, 2016. We suggest that Boards of developments with backyards appurtenant to each separate interest, which would include many planned developments, consider now what kind of reasonable regulations they may want to adopt to regulate clotheslines so that their rule is in effect when the statute takes effect.

California joins Florida, Maine, Utah, Vermont, Colorado and Hawaii as air-dry positive states.

This blog post was based on this article by Jenna Lyons, a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer.

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