Bill back on the line


POSTED: Thursday, February 26, 2009

The clothesline bill is back again, rekindling a debate on homeowners' rights.




Bill hanging on the line

        » HB1273: Allows the use of clotheslines on any privately owned single-family residential dwelling or townhouse. Status: Passed second reading yesterday, placed on calendar for third reading.

» SB1338: Allows for the use of clotheslines at any privately owned single-family residential dwelling or townhouse.  Allows reasonable restrictions on the useof clotheslines for aesthetic purposes. Status: Passed second reading. Committee on Commerce and Consumer Protection will make a public decision tomorrow.back


House Bill 1273, popularly referred to as the “;right to dry act,”; is making its way through the state Legislature.

It seeks to allow homeowners to set up a clothesline for drying laundry in the sun and air, which is prohibited or restricted by many homeowners and condo associations.

A similar bill was vetoed by Gov. Linda Lingle last year.

This year's version of the bill, introduced by Rep. Hermina Morita (D, Hanalei-Kapaa), says a homeowners board may implement “;reasonable restrictions”; on the placement of the clothesline. But those restrictions cannot be so restrictive as to prohibit a clothesline altogether. The language, says Morita, was fine-tuned this year to more explicitly state that.

Line-drying is, according to advocates such as the Sierra Club, the most low-tech way to use solar energy, which could result in more than 10 percent savings on household electricity costs.

“;This bill, as amended, is a fair and balanced means to allow local residents to do the right thing for Hawaii's environment and economy,”; said Sierra Club director Robert Harris.

Jeff Mikulina of the Blue Planet Foundation said clotheslines could save a family on Oahu about $250 a year, and on Kauai, $450 a year.

Opponents of the clothesline bill cited aesthetics as the main reason for opposing it, saying it could lower property values and affect tourism.

Many, such as the Mililani Town Association, say they do allow clotheslines outdoors as long as they are screened from view and not visible from a neighboring property.

The Land Use Research Foundation, a nonprofit representing Hawaii landowners and developers, testified strongly against the bill, calling it “;an unnecessary prohibition and mandate.”; Calling the bill ambiguous, LURF also said it could result in the criminal prosecution of association board members as well as litigation.

Joyce Neeley, an officer of the Hawaii chapter of the Community Associations Institute, said reasonable restrictions should be included in the bill. If, for example, a PGA tournament was being held and broadcast nationally, a board should be able to require clotheslines be out of sight for the day.

“;The Legislature should not try to micromanage community associations,”; Neeley wrote in her testimony.

The bill, which also has a Senate companion, passed a second reading yesterday, and will head for a third. The Senate bill, which passed a second reading, is scheduled for a committee decision tomorrow.