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StarBulletin.com

'Right to dry' bill goes to Lingle again


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POSTED: Saturday, May 23, 2009

The clothesline bill, also known as the “;right to dry”; act, has made its way to the governor for the second year in a row.

Senate Bill 1338 is the surviving sister bill to House Bill 1273, which did not make it due to disagreements between the Senate and House.

Gov. Linda Lingle, who vetoed a similar bill last year, has until July 15 to take final action on the Senate bill.

While many homeowners associations prohibit or restrict clotheslines due to aesthetics, supporters say line drying could save a household more than 10 percent of its energy costs.

This year's Senate bill says no homeowners associations can prevent a home or townhome owner from installing clotheslines through its rules, although they may reasonably restrict their placement and use.

The Mililani Town Association, which testified against a similar bill last year, supported this year's version.

“;The way the bill was rewritten, it addresses all of our concerns so that we're happy,”; said association manager Calvin Maeda. “;We just want to make sure that the aesthetics of the community are maintained and that we still have some control over that, which this bill allows us to do.”;

Maeda said clotheslines are already allowed in Mililani, as long as they are screened from neighboring properties and the street. In prior years he's fielded complaints from neighbors who didn't want “;to be looking at somebody's underwear out of the kitchen window.”;

The Land Use Research Foundation, representing developers, continued to oppose the bill, saying it could decrease property values and lead to unnecessary litigation.

The bill was supported by the Sierra Club, Blue Planet Foundation and the Gas Co.

The Sierra Club and Blue Planet, however, wanted restrictions to not “;deny access to air or sunlight reasonably necessary”; as part of the bill's language.

“;The concern is that people will still be prevented from having a clothesline,”; said Sierra Club Director Robert Harris. “;We're hoping the townhomes and homeowners associations will honor it in the spirit of what it's supposed to do, which is to encourage the use of clotheslines.”;

Many homeowners have had to put up clotheslines in closed garages or carports, he said.

Line-drying instead of using the dryer eight times a week can save up to $29 per month, according to Hawaiian Electric Co.

Lingle vetoed a similar bill last year, saying it was better to promote line drying through advertising and public education rather than government regulation.