Section 4750.10 has been added to the Civil Code in order to allow residents to use clotheslines and drying racks, under certain conditions, without fear of disciplinary action by a homeowners association. The new law defines “clothesline” to include “a cord, rope, or wire from which laundered items may be hung to dry or air.” “Drying rack” means “an apparatus from which laundered items may be hung to dry or air.”
Of importance is that the new law only allows a resident to use a clothesline or drying rack in his or her own backyard and the backyard must be one that is designated for the exclusive use of the owner. Any provision of a governing document that effectively prohibits or unreasonably restricts an owner’s ability to use a clothesline or drying rack in the owner’s backyard is unenforceable. Note that most CC&Rs include a prohibition or restriction on clotheslines and depending upon the specific language used in the document, it may no longer be enforceable.
This statue is one among many statutes related to energy conservation. It will allow residents to appreciate the smell of air-dried linens and clothing, a smell that just can’t be replicated by a second dryer sheet. Air-drying is also thought to decrease bacteria and dust mites in the cloth and decreases mildew-creating humidity inside the home.
In terms of cost savings, air-drying is not going to make a huge impact. The average load of wash costs less than $1 to dry in a conventional dryer. Local energy providers generally estimate that the savings from air-drying for the average family is between $100 and $200 a year.
A homeowners association is permitted to impose reasonable restrictions on the use of a clothesline or drying rack that do not significantly increase the cost of using a clothesline or drying rack. In most associations, and depending upon the specific layout of the homes and backyards, an association may require that the clotheslines and drying racks be positioned so as not to be visible from any neighboring yards, homes or streets. It may also be possible to require that the clothesline be attached to something other than the residential structure, like a pole or tree.
The law specifically provides that a balcony, railing, awning, or other part of a structure or building does not qualify as a clothesline. In other words, residents cannot use the new law in order to justify hanging towels and bathing suits over their balcony railings to the chagrin of all their neighbors.