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There are several reasons you rarely see people using clotheslines anymore. Part of it is the ubiquity and affordability of dryers, yes, but it turns out that many condo associations and community boards have outright banned clotheslines because they're deemed "unsightly."
Now the Los Angeles Times reports that California Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law a bill that makes such bans illegal, with certain exceptions.
The bill comes at a crucial time for California. With a historic drought and the country's growing focus on energy conservation, it makes sense to ditch electricity-sucking dryers for clotheslines. Indeed, the LA Times notes that Gov. Brown "seemed to like [the bill] because it’s an energy saver."
Assembly Bill No. 1448 makes it legal for residents to use clotheslines and drying racks in their "private areas," like backyards.
The LA Times adds that existing clothesline bans have left some renters without a proper place to air their formerly dirty laundry. For example, two women in a Sun Valley, California, apartment complex had to use a railing and planter, respectively. But the bill doesn't give renters and condo-owners many options for where they can place clotheslines and drying racks.
If you don't have an outdoor "private area" like a yard or a balcony, then you'll probably be out of luck. And according to the bill, you still need your landlord's permission to use a drying rack or clothesline, and to attach it to your home.
The bill also specifies that you cannot use a clothesline or rack if it will create hazards or obstacles, or disrupt maintenance.
Regardless, it's a win for those who want the freedom to hang laundry outside their homes. And with the passing of this bill, California joins a slow-growing list of "right to dry" states.
The bill will go into effect on January 1st, 2016.