Do the 6 states that have already passed laws against clotheslines have anything in common? That is a very diverse group.
PERKASIE, Pennsylvania (Reuters) – Carin Froehlich pegs her laundry to three clotheslines strung between trees outside her 18th-century farmhouse, knowing that her actions annoy local officials who have asked her to stop.
Froehlich is among the growing number of people across America fighting for the right to dry their laundry outside against a rising tide ofwho oppose the practice despite its energy-saving green appeal.
Although there are no formal laws in this southeast Pennsylvania town against drying laundry outside, a town official called Froehlich to ask her to stop drying clothes in the sun. And she received two anonymous notes from neighbors saying they did not want to see her underwear flapping about.
"They said it made the place look like trailer trash," she said, in her yard across the street from a row of neat, suburban houses. "They said they didn't want to look at my 'unmentionables.'"
Froehlich says she hangs her underwear inside. The effervescent 54-year-old is one of a growing number of Americans demanding the right to dry laundry on clotheslines despite local rules and a culture that frowns on it.[...]
Florida, Utah, Maine, Vermont, , and Hawaii have passed laws restricting the rights of local authorities to stop residents using clotheslines. Another five states are considering similar measures, said Lee, 35, a former lawyer who quit to run the non-profit group.
While states are getting in on the action, it seems primarily that private homeowners associations are the primary conduit here. It brings up the hairy issue of distinguishing between clubs and government. It is hard for me to see it as coercion since that meant there was a contract you had to agree to ex-ante in order to buy the house, but the same can be said of any local government rule (or pirate ships for that matter).
I take very seriously the externality concerns in this story. While I can not find it in me to object to someone hanging their laundry, others might feel it equivalent to someone standing nude on their front lawn. The Coasian/Bloomington school in me thinks that this should be resolved over a pie among neighbors rather than in the courts.
(Hat Tip: Jason Oberle for the story.)