A dispute over a homeowner using her second property as an Airbnb in the tony oceanside enclave of Manhattan Beach, California has escalated into a breathtakingly petty war, carried out with shocking pink paint and gigantic emojis. When Kathryn Kidd’s neighbors reported to the city that she was renting a two-level duplex as an Airbnb, she was fined $4,000. Then — in an action she claims was entirely coincidental — Kidd had the house painted bright pink and affixed gigantic emojis to it, including features that her nearest neighbor says are meant to be mocking versions of her. I’m inspired, sort of, by this remarkably spiteful emoji house?
The details, as reported last week by Easy Reader News and later picked up by the Los Angeles Times, don’t actually make Kidd sound all that sympathetic, but they absolutely make her sound, er, determined. Both she and her steaming-mad neighbors agree that Kidd rented both units in the duplex to long-term renters. After a time, she decided she’d prefer the short-term variety. (Kidd told Easy Reader News she was unaware short term rentals like Airbnb are illegal in Manhattan Beach). Some of her neighbors complained, and in May she was fined $4,000 by the city.
But the story — although it inarguably should — does not end there. Her nearest neighbor, Susan Wieland, tells Easy Reader News that she arrived home one night in June to see that the house had been painted pink and be-mojied:
“It just took my breath away,” she said. “I just came home and went inside. We still have the shades shut. It’s definitely directed at me. Every day I get up, I’m so depressed. I can’t look outside. I feel like I’m being bullied, frankly, by her. That word keeps coming up to me: she’s a bully, and she feels she is entitled. She just wants to make things uncomfortable for us.”
Kidd, meanwhile, says the intention of the house was to make elevate the mood of the neighborhood, as she puts it, “Instead of everybody being so gloomy, always so depressed, always in other people’s business.” Subtle.
Kidd called the property “my happy house” and said the intention of the pink paint and emojis was to provide cheer in the neighborhood.
“The artist is kind of a friend of mine,” Kidd said. “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 colorful, be positive, and enjoy. Everything doesn’t have to be gray. It can be full of colors. Life is full of rainbows. I get tired of looking at gloomy buildings so I do something that makes me smile and probably makes someone else smile, too. That was my inspiration.”
There’s also the curious fact that the emojis aren’t exactly found in nature: one has a dangling tongue and a deranged grin, the other a zippered mouth, but both have gigantic, oddly incongruous eyelashes. Wieland tells Easy Reader News that she also felt the eyelashes were directed at her. She herself had put eyelash extensions put on a short time before the dispute, she told the publication:
“I feel like I’ve been directly attacked with my eyelash extensions,” Wieland said. “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.”
(Kidd claims not to really know what Wieland looks like and to have not commissioned the emojis to resemble her unhappy neighbor, telling Easy Reader, “She can think what she wants, but it’s not. She’s probably paranoid. She has some curious issues, to say the least.”)
The Los Angeles Times shares that Kidd’s neighbors are concerned that the whole emoji situation could be a slippery slope, right into some poop:
Carol Madonna, who has lived on the street since 1998 and plans to attend Tuesday’s council meeting, said the situation could quickly become a slippery slope if the city continued to “cower behind freedom of speech.” If the city allows these emojis, she wonders if they would allow some of the more extreme ones, such as the poop emoji, and questions where officials would draw the line.
At a City Council meeting on Tuesday night, the Times reports, neighbors plan to renew their calls for the city to force Kidd to remove the emojis. Kidd, meanwhile, told the Easy Reader she’s not in violation of any laws, called and visited City Hall to make sure her emojification was legal, and is, furthermore, thinking of painting her own home and another property she owns in a similar style.
While this is not inspirational in the classic sense — the emojis, the gigantic waste of time, the clear determination to bum out your neighbors — it is, perhaps, a reminder that each of us has one precious life, and you can, you know, actively choose not to spend it like this.