Residents in the Manhattan Beach neighbourhood of Los Angeles, in the US state of California, are irate that an owner of a local house seems to be taunting them with a new paint job displaying two emojis on a fuchsia backdrop.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the feud heated up when neighbours reported homeowner Kathryn Kidd to the municipality for renting the house for short-term stays, possibly on Airbnb—an illegal practice in Manhattan Beach. Neighbourhood news outlet Easy Reader News, which first wrote about the dispute, reports that the complaint led to Kidd being fined $4,000 (£3,288).
“I did a four-day short-term rental and got fined $4,000,” Kidd told Easy Reader. “Now I only do long-term rentals. I didn’t realise it was illegal.”
In late May, Kidd reportedly responded with a weird flex of garish artwork. She had the house exterior painted pink and commissioned a local artist to paint two large emojis on the walls—on the second floor, a face with crossed eyes and its tongue sticking out; on the first floor, a face with crossed eyes and a zipper mouth. Both emojis have long eyelashes.
Susan Wieland, a neighbour who reported Kidd’s vacation rental, believes the artwork is a personal affront. “I feel like I’ve been directly attacked with my eyelash extensions,” Wieland told Easy Reader. “It’s definitely directed. I had them done here in Manhattan Beach, and they did them way too big. Now it’s painted on the house.”
Wieland told the news outlet she wept the first time she came home from a long trip to see the emojis facing her house. “I feel like I’m being bullied, frankly, by her,” Wieland added. “That word keeps coming up to me: she’s a bully, and she feels she is entitled.”
Kidd denied to the local outlet that the emojis were supposed to resemble Wieland. She called the residence “my happy house.”
“Instead of everybody being so gloomy, always so depressed, always in other people’s business, I just wanted to send a message to be happy, be colourful, be positive, and enjoy,” Kidd told Easy Reader. “Everything doesn’t have to be grey. It can be full of colours. Life is full of rainbows.”
The artist who Kidd hired to do the painting, Z the Art, posted a photo of his work on Instagram.
Easy Reader reports that Z the Art’s Instagram post originally said:
Are your neighbors constantly ratting you out? Have they cost you thousands in fines? Have you wanted to tell them off lately? Why risk a case, when you can hire me to paint them a pretty message? No verbal confrontations, speedy turnaround, open to photorealism and custom emojis. Hit the dm for a free quote today.
That message appears to no longer be on Z the Art’s post about the emoji house. Z the Art did not respond to a Gizmodo question about whether the artist edited the statement.
The Los Angeles Times reports that multiple neighbours complained about the paint job to city officials to no avail.
“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,” local resident Chris Strickfaden told the Times in an email. “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.”
According to the Times, some concerned neighbours reportedly plan on expressing their frustration on Tuesday night at the city council meeting.
Featured image: Screenshot: CBS Los Angeles