August 7, 2019

"I’m trying not to offend anybody. I did it for the purpose of being happy, being positive, and I think it’s cute and quirky and kind of funny, and certainly was a time for the emoji."

Said Kathryn Kidd, quoted in "'Emoji house’ feud erupts as frustrated residents urge Manhattan Beach to take action" (LA Times). Kidd had her house painted as you see below after she was reported by a neighbor for using the house as an AirBnB and fined $4,000.


The Instagrammer, Z the Art, did the painting. Now, neighbors have reported the paint job and are seeking action from the city, which seems cowed by the notion that Kidd has a free-speech right to paint her house like that. I'd need to know if there's some generally applicable law about murals to have an opinion about that.

One of the neighbors, Chris Strickfaden, is quoted saying:
“Besides the obvious ugliness — and no one believes this is just artistic expression — it has now become a traffic nuisance issue with people stopping by to take selfies in front of the emoji house. It’s nuts... I believe generally people should be able to do what they want with their property within the guidelines of the city, without governmental interference, including painting their exterior. However, this situation is not about the right of the homeowner. It’s about one homeowner saying F-U to the person she blames for her plight and F-U to the rest of the street.”
I wonder what he means by "just artistic expression." If you're expressing hostility, it's not artistic?! To single out the "fuck you" expression is viewpoint discrimination.

60 comments:

Martin said...

I like it, and the backstory makes it even better.

chuck said...

Democrats :) The mural adds some class to the neighborhood.

Skookum John said...

Glorious. We need to cultivate a climate of constant stubborn resistance to nanny government.

John henry said...

this is where a homeowners association, with covenants voluntarily agreed to by the homeowner are really useful.

In my neighborhood, for example, all houses have to be painted white. No colored trim, all white.

I keep telling my wife that I would like to paint our house in bright Caribbean reds, blues, greens and yellows but she says no.

If I did, the HOA would take me to court.

We also don't permit Airbnb. No rentals less than 6 months.

I am a strong supporter of HOAs. Democracy in action.

I am guessing, though Ann doesn't say, that there is no city zoning ordinance against the house color and logo.

John Henry

Robt C said...

I used to live in Manhattan Beach. If they don't allow her to keep the house as is, MB has changed for the worse -- both city ordinances and citizens.

cacimbo said...

Looking on google maps most of the houses on the block are drab blocks with no greenery. This is a big improvement. What irks me is she did not paint the sides of the house, or the front door and garage in a coordinating color.

MadisonMan said...

So that's beach-front property, and the art is overlooking an alley. There are neighbors with way too much time on their hands if they're pursuing this.

readering said...

I fear vandalism

Fernandistein said...

I like the way the trash cans look like they're sitting on the sidewalk.

mccullough said...

Wait until the homeless start camping out on the streets.

Mark said...

Snitches get zippers appears to be the message.

Given the vast amount of art in Venice Beach just up the coast, I am guessing there is a bit of classism going on here too.

I can understand neighbors not being fond of the neighbors running an unlicensed (and likely illegal) airBnb.

cacimbo said...

The art does not overlook an alley, it is on the front of the house facing the street.

John henry said...

I also don't see how 1st Amendment enters into it. I get the argument that it is speech and all but if there is no law about what color a house should be, then the homeowner can paint it any color they want.

I do find this in the city's building code, though I think it only relates to downtown commercial buildings. Not gonna wade through the whole thing:

3 DESIGN GUIDELINES
...

Building walls facing public streets and walkways should provide visual interest to pedestrians.


The complaint is partly about the "visual interest" the house provides, with people stopping to take pictures, driving out of their way to see it and so on. Seems to me that not only is the house not out of compliance, it is explicitly within the spirit of the code. Assuming that that section of the code is applicable.

John Henry

Nonapod said...

no one believes this is just artistic expression

That's seems like a somewhat moot assertion. After all one could argue that any mural or public display isn't just about "artistic expression". Heck, any piece of art ever created could be argued to be about more than expression.

John henry said...

Link

http://www.citymb.info/home/showdocument?id=95

John Henry

Big Mike said...

If I lived near that house the trash cans would be a larger issue for me than the "art." Of course around here we have black bears who raid trash cans so the HOA requires us to keep them inside the garage until we put them out for collection.

traditionalguy said...

But what if those smiley faces are secret White Supremacist code? Maybe they smile because they are oppressing non-whites. We must get a Phd's opinion who teaches this stuff.

Lucid-Ideas said...

It's not a NIMBY or a YIMBY issue.

It's a BNNANA issue. Build Nothing Nowhere Anywhere Never Always.

tim maguire said...

Are the emojis any uglier than the house itself? A matter of opinion, I suppose.

But the correct opinion is, no.

Nice said...

Doesn't this come down to what is reasonably considered a disturbance? I'd like to ask the Professor if she sees this along the same lines as putting up a swastika, or burning a cross on your lawn. And onlookers are forced to acknowledge it. You can't look away from a burning cross = disturbance. I guess the difference is intent, but the neighbors say the intent is the same.

Caligula said...

The thing about vision is, you don't have to look at it.

Unlike sound, which which you'll hear even if you don't listen.

Which is an argument for controlling sound levels, yet leaving people free to paint the exterior of a house in whatever manner they wish.

Although a trompe l'oeil showing a house bristling with machine guns and RPGs aimed outwardly and pointing here and there might disturb the neighbors.

Kevin said...

If some gang banger tagged her house with illiterate spray painted scribbles, she'd be charged with a hate crime for cleaning it off/painting over it.

Phidippus said...

"I'm not trying to offend anybody."

Passive-aggressive bitch. Very California.

Grundoon said...

I see the sidewalk is still available for camping.

Maybe a homeless person can live there and become a docent for emoji tours. I think a tour of about 50 feet along the sidewalk and maybe across the street a couple of times would provide all the views possible.

He could tell the history of emojis and their place in California culture.

He could sign autographs,too as "The Emoji Docent."

The tips might cover his meth budget.

RNB said...

"...HOAs. Democracy in action." Except when they're like having the Warsaw Pact for a neighbor.

Father of a friend was notified that the HOA of a subdivision adjacent to his house had filed a complaint with the city government that his house did not comply with their (the HOA's) covenants. Said homeowner is not a member of the HOA. His house is not part of their subdivision. The city bounced their complaint.

The man is an elderly, cranky widower with no children at home. He repainted his house: Green with purple polka dots.

Otto said...

Do you think she could sell that house at market value with those emojis?

gahrie said...

To single out the "fuck you" expression is viewpoint discrimination.

You say that like it is a bad thing.....

Richard Dolan said...

Different kind of painted lady, for sure. Oddly for California, it seems that a lot of people in that 'hood are against diversity and inclusion.

daskol said...

Here, reddit reacts to Andrew Yang's goofy looking mural on a house by the BQE. Murals these days.

Lyle Sanford, RMT said...

"To single out the "fuck you" expression is viewpoint discrimination." For me, the amazing value of your cruel neutrality is deploying it in situations where I'd not have seen what was going on without your calling it out.

Arashi said...

I like it. Good use of color and graphics. Thank gawd I do not have an HOA in my neighborhood. There are apparantly covenents, but the previous homeonwer never indicated their existance, I did not sign anything, and since I paid for the house, I'll do what I wish with it as long as I don't run afoul of city ordinances.

If I want to paint it pink with green trim - my choice. Don't like it - move.

CJinPA said...

If you're in a community that just fined you for renting out your house, don't act surprised when they get upset that you pained emojis on it.

You can be against such rules, but once you choose to live there, you live by the rules or leave.

Otto said...

Wonder what Ann's reaction would be if her neighbor had Fu*k You painted on its house directly visible from Ann's house ?

Jamie said...

The "artistic expression" thing: what, artistic expression has to be message-free? I thought the whole point of art is to get something across to the experiencer of the art.

The whole situation, however, is just so Cali-typical.

I live in an HOA-regulated neighborhood. I HATE HOAs, while acknowledging that they do create a uniformly tidy and put-together-looking neighborhood - something that used to be accomplished, I am told, via pressure from neighbors instead of the threat of legal action. My mental jury is still out about whether, in the end, I truly prefer the enforced "no trash cans at the curb except on trash day" and the "all houses within a single, limited color palette" and the "mow your lawn or else" and the "no cars on blocks, no refrigerators on porches," or the greater freedom of a less regulated neighborhood. I think in theory I'd like the greater freedom, but in practice it's nice to live on a nice-looking street. Sigh.

Hagar said...

Never buy a house with a HOA attached!

(and I don't think that you did not realize there was one will wash. Read every piece of paper through slowly, sentence by sentence!)

Earnest Prole said...

If the Los Angeles Times still employed journalists they could have asked the neighbors what city code they fancy the owner broke, though I'm guessing if the neighbors actually had the law on their side they'd be citing it.

Regardless, both sides in these types of disputes often underestimate the financial and psychological cost of a feud.

Otto said...

How about if Ann's neighbor painted on its house "Althouse sucks, no viewer discrimination".

Earnest Prole said...

Do you think she could sell that house at market value with those emojis?

You’re asking whether prospective buyers are capable of factoring in $500 in paint when bidding against other buyers on a $2.7 million house? I'm guessing for those who can afford it the answer is yes.

Temujin said...

First world problems.

John henry said...

Blogger Arashi said...

There are apparantly covenents, but the previous homeonwer never indicated their existance, I did not sign anything,

It may be different where you live but we have had people make that argument here. We have about 3 pages of covenents in the property deed. They also appear in the master property deed for the subdivision.

When people claim they never signed, we ask them to show a copy of their deed and we point out the covenants and their initials on the page.

They are really hard to miss. The deed itself is about 20 pages of legalese in Spanish. In the middle of it is 3 pages of covenants in English.

You might want to look at the deed you signed when you bought the house.

John Henry

EDH said...

"Emoji House Feud"?

Does she have to kiss Richard Dawson on the lips?

John henry said...

Blogger Hagar said...

(and I don't think that you did not realize there was one will wash. Read every piece of paper through slowly, sentence by sentence!)

We have a big sign up on our entrance gates, paid for by HOA dues, along with landscaping of common areas and other things, that says, in English and Spanish to the effect of

If buying a house here be sure to check with the HOA (phone#) to see if there is a lien on the house. Buyers are responsible for any liens.

They should not be able to buy the house if it has a lien but if someone slips up, it might go through. They might find themselves responsible to thousands of dollars in liens.

We had one resident who managed to get cross-wise with us to the extent of about $25,000. That goes with the house, not the owner.

John Henry

Arashi said...

John Henry,

Nope - nothing in the deed, and I always read every single page of legal documents. Causes a bit of consternation at closing.

So, not in the disclosures, not in the deed, not in any papwerwork, not in the liens from the city and county, etc.

So, does not exist (check with your legal advisor if you'd like - I already did).

So in this instance, we have rich people bitching at other rich people. Yes, the hoemowner should have checked the whole Airbnb thing to make sure it was OK as far as the city was concerned. Painting the emojios is definitley a "fuck you" to the neighbors. So many popcorn moments, so little time.

As someone pointed out above - first world problems.

Hagar said...

Where there is a HOA there will be an Inga and/or a Chuck!

AndrewV said...

When I was living in Orlando, Florida back in the mid 1980's their was a house a near by that was painted purple with yellow polka dots. I always wondered what started the feud with the neighbors that drove the homeowner to do that.

SDaly said...

From the limited view offered the street and the housing overall is very unattractive. The painting adds life to it. If the complaining neighbor's house is the one visible in the picture, I would raise and ADA complaint about the curb/concrete situation that is blocking the sidewalk.

Roughcoat said...

It's no worse than sign planted in the front yard of my public school teacher next-door neighbor: "Hate Has No Home Here."

Ralph L said...

I assume that's the rear of the house. I would be annoyed if strangers kept driving in the alley behind my house, but I don't blame her for feeling provoked.

In my historic district, about the only thing they can't (theoretically) control is the paint color. Fortunately, they've gotten pretty slack in this century. There is (or was) a significant state income tax credit for major renovations in exchange for control from Raleigh.

PuertoRicoSpaceport.com said...

Blogger Roughcoat said...

It's no worse than sign planted in the front yard of my public school teacher next-door neighbor: "Hate Has No Home Here."

If that was my neighbor, I'd put up a "Love Trump's Hate" sign.

(Note the apostrophe)

John Henry

gadfly said...

By advertising the house on AirBnB as the "Emoji House" would attract more viewers an ultimately more income. But a law preventing renting of owned property and imposing outrageous fines for violations has to be over-the-top. Regulating rentals is one thing but making rentals illegal is quite another - unless not a single rental is allowed.

Earnest Prole said...

I assume that's the rear of the house.

Your assumption would be incorrect. You can see the location of the house on a major Manhattan Beach street if you click the Zillow link I posted upthread.

Howard said...

You can't legislate art. She should have the history preserve society annoint the Emojis house a landmark so it has to stay that way forever

readering said...

My experience is that the kinds of people who involve themselves on HOA' are mendacious intermeddlers. A lot of petty litigation arises from HOAs with specialty lawyers.

AAT said...

You’re the best, Althouse.

wildswan said...

It's a neighborhood dispute between a wolverine neighbors: emojis vs. $4000 fine plus lost rental fees. Free speech and the Constitution are side issues next to having your use of fake eyelashes plastered all over the neighborhood vs. loss of income. Social media here plays the role of the "kind friends" who move between the combatants saying: "I just feel that you should know..."

svlc said...

I like the paintjob. It is a hell of an improvement over a boring white facade.

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

Teh zipped lips is the perfect slogan for the fascist speech police left.

Bill R said...

"I believe generally people should be able to do what they want with their property"

The key word in the above sentence is 'generally'. It negates the rest and stands in for the longer, wordier phrase "Unless it's something I don't like."

Tom T. said...

There was a house near me where the homeowner carved and polished the trunk of a dying tree in his front yard into an 18-foot sculpture of a topless mermaid with enormous breasts. Many neighbors hated it, and it was a major traffic hazard on a busy road, due to all the rubber-necking, but the county couldn't find anything illegal. She stayed up for ten years until she rotted from within.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-state-of-nova/post/arlingtons-18-foot-topless-mermaid-can-be-yours-for-3000/2011/07/21/gIQAB466RI_blog.html

Tom T. said...

Better picture of the topless mermaid:

https://www.roadsideamerica.com/tip/9454