Arrow-right Camera


Fines On The Line City Doesn’t Want Laundry Out Front

Sat., Feb. 21, 1998, midnight

Think twice about where you air your laundry - dirty or clean - in this city.

Hanging clothes on front porches, fences or anywhere other than a backyard clothesline can result in a $25 fine.

“It’s not fair to look out and see someone’s clothes hanging over a fence,” said City Councilor Marie Gosselin, co-sponsor of the new law.

Gosselin, an insurance agent, said when she grew up in the city’s housing projects, tenants took pride in their homes and hung their laundry in designated areas.

But today, she said, people carelessly drape wet socks and underwear over fences and railings in their front yards.

And she places much of the blame on landlords who don’t provide tenants with a place to hang drying clothes. This is why the ordinance punishes the landlord or property owner, not the tenant, she said.

The new law was passed by a majority of city councilors this week and will go into effect in 30 days.

Support did not come without a wrinkle.

Marc Laplante, a former city budget worker who provided the sole dissenting vote, said that while he’s no fan of seeing his neighbors’ briefs and boxers drying outside, the city has more pressing problems.

Lawrence, a densely populated industrial city 25 miles north of Boston, is currently without a permanent school superintendent or police chief and its high school is fighting to win back accreditation.

Citing her need to attend to such problems, Mayor Patricia Dowling said she hasn’t had much time to think much about the ordinance.

Dowling has the power to veto it, but has not signaled what she intends to do. “I think one of the problems we have is we have too many ordinances,” she said.

Nevertheless, “I think what we’re trying to do is clean up the city and I suppose they thought this would help.”


Click here to comment on this story »