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Hot pink 'emoji house' causes neighborhood uproar, debate

Neighbors see the emojis as a personal attack.
/ Source: TODAY

Many of us enjoy expressing ourselves through emojis in text messages, emails and more, but one California homeowner has taken her love for those adorable little symbols to the next level.

Manhattan Beach resident Kathryn Kidd recently had the exterior of her house painted hot pink with two giant emojis, and her neighbors aren't thrilled.

Kidd, who rents the home out to tenants and lives in another Manhattan Beach house, told TODAY Home she simply wanted to brighten up the exterior.

"I like bright colors. I like happy, positive, outgoing things. I’m a little bit eccentric," she said.

Neighbors in the area, however, aren't loving the emojis — one which features a zipper closing up a mouth and the other a laughing face with the tongue sticking out. Many have reached out to their local city council to try to demand that the lively mural be painted over.

Neighbors are concerned about the appearance of the "emoji house."Courtesy of Zak Kid

The problem at hand? Many neighbors believe Kidd's emojis are a way of mocking them for an ongoing property dispute. This May, neighbors reported Kidd to city officials for using her home for short-term rentals (like Airbnb, which the city deems illegal). Soon after, Kidd was fined $4,000.

"I don't think of it as artwork," one neighbor told KNBC in Los Angeles. "I feel very, very bullied. Bullied and harassed by her."

Another neighbor said the zipper emoji sends a harsh message: "I think it means to shut up."

Kidd told TODAY Home she apologizes for the infraction and has moved on: "I accept full responsibility for my actions for the short-term rental. I was unaware of it, but when I was fined, I paid my fine. Painting my building has nothing to do with this situation or my neighbors. It was just a personal liking."

Kidd also said the sassy emojis were modeled off herself. "I have eyelash extensions I love. Others have seen it as a personal attack against neighbors, but I barely know my neighbors," she said. "I’m kind of a girly girl so I want the house to be dressed up."

Kidd was surprised by her neighbors' reactions, and only learned they disliked the emojis when a local newspaper covered the story.

"Before that, I'd only heard positive comments. When I was doing interviews for the story, they asked me about the city council meeting, and I had no idea about it," she said.

People have attended city council meetings to debate whether Kidd should be forced to paint over the pictures.Courtesy of Zak Kid

Kidd's neighbors recently attended two city council meetings to voice their concerns over the "emoji house" and the city shared the following statement with TODAY: "The City has received a number of inquiries regarding a residential structure that has 'emojis' painted on its external walls. Currently, the city’s municipal code does not prohibit paintings, murals, graphic displays, etc. on residential structures. In general, the United States Supreme Court has held that, subject to certain exceptions (e.g., obscenity), the First Amendment requires that regulations that may proscribe speech or expressive content must be content neutral or narrowly tailored to serve a compelling public interest."

The statement continues: "At a public hearing on July 10, 2019, the city’s planning commission considered a proposal to amend the city’s sign ordinance to address murals. During the hearing, several people expressed their concerns about the emojis. The commission continued the item to provide an opportunity for additional public input and directed staff to evaluate regulation options and provide more information regarding First Amendment rights with respect to paintings, murals, graphic displays, etc. The planning commission will be revisiting this issue on Aug. 28."

One neighbor who spoke with KNBC vowed to keep pursuing the issue with the city: "I don't know what's gonna happen but we're going to go after her with everything that we can."

Kidd, on the other hand, hasn't attended either of the meetings. "I haven’t spoken to any of my neighbors; no one has addressed it with me."