News and notes from Reston (tm).

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Could the Virginia Senate Bring an End to the DRB? The Answer, My Friends, Is Blowin' in the Wind


Could the Virginia Senate bring about an end to the absolute power of the DRB? Probably not, but we could start seeing some lovely clotheslines hanging between our earth-toned abodes, casting attractive shadows on our red mulch.
By a 37-3 vote Tuesday, the Senate passed a bill that would prohibit homeowner's associations from banning residents from stringing up clothes lines to dry their garments.
The ramifications could be staggering. Just ask our favorite correspondent, The Peasant From Less Sought After South Reston:
If this bill passes the state assembly and is signed by our new governor, this means that our beloved nanny state RA cannot ban clotheslines, with their assorted flapping sheets and underwear, from festooning our fair paradise.  The end of earth-toned civilization as we know it!

But then again, the bill "allows restrictions concerning the size and placement of the so-called natural drying devices".  Well, that ought to keep the DRB productively engaged for months!  I bet the end product would be even better (i.e., more inane) than the design guidelines for compost bins.
The Peasant's right. We'd better beat the rush and start looking for some taupe-colored string right now.


  1. Wow, a solar clothes drier! What'll thhose green folks think of next?

  2. wow -- a lot of interested folks

  3. So, Rod, what's your position on clotheslines?

  4. If the clotheslines were going to be hung with clothing that attractive, I might reevaluate my position. But if they're going to be in line with the 'Christmas lights year round' decor of my neighbors, I'll pass, thanks. Trailer park decor we don't need.

  5. Anon 4:30PM- So are you saying folks should only line dry their Sunday best? Or are you saying you think clothes-lines are too trailer-parky? Just to clarify, I am in no way trying to be sarcastic, I'm just facsinated by your position.

  6. A lot of people associate clothes lines with poverty because in the 50's when everyone got clothes driers that was how they were marketed.

    Fact is, if it is a warm day with a moderate breeze, your clothes will dry faster than in the tumble drier and it will not cost you a thing.

    The cultural bias against clothes lines needs to change. It is actually pretty stupid to run a drier if the weather permits a clothes line.

    This is a good thing for our environment, and our electricity bills.

    If you don't like the look of my undies in the breeze, look the other way.

    Lastly, you already could line dry in RA if the line was below your fence. So this new law does not change much since RA can still say that you need to keep the line below your fence or in your back yard.

  7. Yuck, I never could understand why you would want bugs in your clean clothes. And that's exactly what you get when they hang outside. I prefer to line dry them indoors. Maybe it's not as fast, but it is still saving electricity and no bugs or other nasty particles.

  8. The rules against clotheslines are similair to the rules against growing vegetables anyplace visible to neighbors (another rule that needs to be axed). We want to maintain the imagine of wealth in our neighborhoods above all else. God forbid I should have to look at a tomato plant in someone's front yard.

  9. 8:26- one of the benefits of outdoor drying is that sunlight is a natural stain remover, and the UV light also kills whatever might be lingering in your laundry, which is useful if you've got a kid with a stomach bug or whatnot.

  10. Anon 8:57 - totally agree. The idea of vegetable gardening being unacceptable is beyond me! Is this the 1930's, or what? Is vegetable gardening only something poor people do whereas the rich cultivate only flowers and grass? Ridiculous! As a newbie to Reston, RA, etc., can someone answer a dumb question? If I'm interested in getting a rule like this repealed, what are my options? Is it a hopeless pipe dream?

  11. Vegetable rule flouterFebruary 3, 2010 at 9:34 PM

    If it was the 1930's there would be no question about where one grew their vegetables. Anywhere one wanted, esp. in the middle of a depression.

    Hell the 40's everyone had victory gardens. It was concidered your civic duty to grow veg.

    No this whole idea is post WWII 'prosperity' atomic-age nonsense where people thought it was healthier to eat veg from a can than to grow it themselves.

    DVD I'd say your hopes of changing the covenant are slim and none. best we could hope for would be a legislation like the clothes drying one.

    You can grow in your side yard or back yard without any problems.

    My back yard is North facing and behind a 6'wall. No veg will grow there.

    I'm going to plant in the front this spring and flout the rule. I'll place a few select flowers among my vegetables and not plant in rows so it looks more ornamental.

    A neighbor grew pumpkins in their front yard this past summer and it was very cool.

  12. Anon 8:26

    I've never gotten 'bugs' in my clothes from line drying.

    Your comment seems slightly entomophobic.

    A little sun and a light breeze is all you need.

  13. The Ghost of Mahatma GandhiFebruary 3, 2010 at 10:24 PM

    The possibilities for some wickedly funny civil disobedience against the nanny state just keep expanding exponentially:

    - Plant a vegetable garden in your front yard

    - Use red mulch

    - Hang a clothesline above your fence.

    All do all three at once.

    Any other ideas?

  14. Vegetable Flouter - sounds good, good luck! I grew veggies in my backyard for five years in Vienna before moving here. Same as you, my backyard faces north and is also small and wooded. The front yard is the only place that gets sun and really a fairly small strip. The former owner had a small herb garden growing, so I guess I'll at least have that. Our preschool has a big community garden that gets full sun, and so my veggies did about 10x better there than in the partially shaded areas of my Vienna yard, but still it's the principle that annoys me. The RA talks a lot about sustainability, so why would you prevent your residents from using parts of their property in an effort to do something that promotes health, learning for kids, not to mention cutting down on the trips (gas) to the local grocery store/famers market? Don't they know that vegetable gardening is actually becoming trendy? Truly, they really are living back in the 50's, since the whole trend has been growing for a good 10-20 years now.

    I know their defense will be to suggest people get plots in these community gardens, but the closest one to us is almost two miles away, and aside from that there aren't enough plots for everyone who would want one. On RA's site they say they rent 255 plots. For 60,000 people? That's not very promising. I bet if there weren't this ban you'd have a lot more people actually doing gardening than they have right now...

  15. Drive the RA nuts and plant tomatoes in your front yard. After all, they are technically a fruit. Or are there rules against fruit as well?

  16. The Convict in the GulagFebruary 3, 2010 at 11:28 PM

    The problem with growing tomatoes in your front yard is that they may wind up on your house. I'm not threatening. I'm just saying that there are people around who would do it just for the heck of it.

    I've teased my neighbors plenty of times that, when I get really pissed at the local HOA, I'm going to plow under my front yard and put in a crop of corn and pole beans and maybe even a goat. I would certainly like to see them make a fuss about a man trying to feed his family.

  17. There have actually been a lot of communities (both local and out of the area/state) who've successfully gotten ordinances against raising poultry lifted with the recession. Now, those types of ordinances are normally county or town, right? Reston is a funny situation so I don't know if they even bother mentioning such things since Fairfax already has pretty strict rules and there aren't that many plots (if any?) here in Reston that would qualify as being big enough to house poultry according to FFX ordinances.

  18. Veg flouter might be chicken flouter too!February 3, 2010 at 11:53 PM

    In the UK, anyone can keep a couple of chickens and a few rabbits for food in their back 'garden' (as they call their yard, whether growing anything or not) .

    Even in London in Westminster (nicest part) you can keep some hens for egg production.

    Fairfax Co. is out of touch. I can understand a ban on roosters (cockerels), but a small hutch with a couple of hens for fresh eggs is sustainable and eco-friendly. (Though with all the foxes you might really get a fox in your henhouse!)

  19. I wish there was an 'edit' function:

  20. Yep, our preschool had a fox come last year and take out a bunch of their hens. The others still aren't laying - gonna take them a while to recover...

  21. I would be afraid to have chickens because of the predators. I live near Reston Nat'l golf course, and *Something* has been eating the local cats since I moved in 6 years ago. My bet is a coyote.

    Oh, BTW, I did put my name on the list to get a garden plot, but the wait is over a year. Better than it used to be, though... apparently RA just changed the way this was handled so that neglected plots go to new renters. Prior to this, people would sit on the waiting list for years on end.

    I can't grow vegetables in my backyard, either. Not enough sun. I'm curious about the preschool with farms plots and chickens- is this the Frying Pan park preschool? I looked over there for my older child and liked it a lot.

  22. Nope, Discovery Woods in Vienna

  23. I made the original Anon 4:30 comment about drying clothes outside. It was supposed to be a comment on how "picture perfect" the clothes in the photo look -- artistically arrayed and all. If that's what we would see, I think RA would be more inclined to be on board. But yes, clotheslines, junked cars and equipment and Christmas/neon lights year round due affect property values because they affect the way potential buyers see your neighborhood. That might not matter to some, but if you're trying to sell your house one day, it might.

    I think the no-veg rules are stupid. And neighbors who have had comm garden plots have said that they have soil and pest problems, probably because of the intensity of overfarming them.

    It's very short-sighted to disallow veg plots. It's similar to their position on solar panels -- you can have them only if they're tasteful, small, etc. -- which means probably not real useful in terms of cost to install vs. $$ recaptured.

    That's why BiCo should be running for RA. We need young, forward thinking folks on the board!

  24. The reason the yearly influenza outbreak starts in Asia is that it is a disease endemic in poultry. Having a lot of people living in close proximity to free-range birds enables the virus to jump species to humans.

    The CDC uses "Sentinel Chickens" (I could not have made that phrase up in my most sardonic moment)to monitor the spread of influenza. The Sentinel Chickens are exposed to mosquitoes and other poultry disease vectors just as backyard chickens would be.

    Veg Flouter, doesn't egg production involve a rooster at some stage?

    We already have Ebola Reston. With backyard chickens, could we add the Reston flu to our fame?

  25. scubadiver- I'm not the original poster, but you don't need a rooster for egg production unless you want new chickens. Birds lay eggs whether there is someone around to fertilize them or not.

  26. Planting where the sun don't shineFebruary 5, 2010 at 8:46 PM

    Anon 6:57

    You can grow vegetables, just not in your front yard.

    I'll be planting some vegetables in the small sunny spot in the front of my townhome anyways.

  27. Bwha haha.. clotheslines! The end of civilization as we know it.

    I grow tomatoes in my front yard every summer.

    I've learned something about the DRB in my 14 years here: just ignore it. there is really nothing they can do to you.

    Daylilies are technically a vegetable.