An emoji-sporting hot-pink house that launched a neighborhood brouhaha in Manhattan Beach, Calif., is on the market.

The beach-adjacent property was listed Aug. 19 for $1.749 million, two weeks after homeowners and renters in the neighborhood raised objections to the paint job at a City Council meeting.

The battle between homeowner Kathryn Kidd and her neighbors started in May, when residents reported Kidd to the city for illegally using her property for short-term rentals, such as Airbnb. After Kidd was fined $4,000 for violating the city’s rental laws, the once-beige property was painted a loud pink, adorned with two yellow emoji faces. The unfolding saga was first reported by Easy Reader News.

The debate might resonate around Philadelphia, where house paint and short-term rentals have spawned similar neighborhood squabbles.

Some Manhattan Beach neighbors think that the painted emojis were intended to mock them. A tongue-wagging face with eyes darting in opposite directions sits above another with a zipper across its mouth. Both emojis feature long eyelashes, a characteristic that neighbor Susan Wieland thinks is meant to poke fun at her eyelash extensions.

The artist who spray-painted the design onto the house, known as Z the Art, posted a photo of his work on Instagram in May with the hashtags #TheEmojiHouse and #eyelashextensions. The original caption, which since has been deleted, read: “Are your neighbors constantly ratting you out? Have they cost you thousands in fines? Why risk a case when you can send them a pretty message?”

Kidd dismissed the idea that the emojis were intended to mock anyone.

“I’m trying not to offend anybody,” she told Easy Reader News. “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.”

A similar paint dispute rose in the 1990s when some Haddonfield residents hotly objected to a purple Victorian just outside the South Jersey borough’s historic district. The owners rejected the clamor, asserting their “freedom of expression.”

“We absolutely love the town,” they told The Inquirer at the time, “and we think we’re enhancing it.”

Besides, they said, the paint shades were more aster or lavender, or maybe mulberry or plum.

The Haddonfield couple likewise were accused of retaliatory painting — in their case, to get back at the borough for raising taxes. The owner told The Inquirer: “I wouldn’t spend the kind of money I did to get back at anybody.”

In Manhattan Beach, City Council members said they have no control over the design of the house. One member recommended that residents consider suing Kidd.

She purchased the 1,528-square-foot duplex in March 2018 for $1.35 million. According to Zillow, the house, built in 1931, was listed in December 2018 for $1.99 million, before it was pulled from the market a few months later. Now it’s up for sale again.

One resident said the emojis were meant to mock her eyelash extensions.
Kent Nishimura / MCT
One resident said the emojis were meant to mock her eyelash extensions.

Not surprisingly, the listing makes no mention of the neighborhood commotion over the house or its recent external makeover. Its hardwood flooring, countertops, stainless steel appliances, four-car garage, and ocean views are detailed instead. (The white/gray/beige interior actually cuts a drab contrast to the flashy exterior.)

Manhattan Beach, southwest of Los Angeles, is a high-priced beach town, with blocks of homes packed cheek-to-jowl. According to the property data provider CoreLogic, the median sales price in July for single-family homes in the area was $3.063 million. California consistently ranks among the most expensive places to live in the United States.

According to MB Confidential, a local real estate blog written by broker Dave Fratello, some neighbors have inquired about purchasing the property. It’s unclear whether new owners would keep the pink palette, but Fratello posits that the timing of putting the house on the market now is perfect for someone trying to avoid a potential suit or further confrontation.

“What you do with a famous property, if your goal all along was profit, is try to sell it at the very moment that everyone is talking about it,” he wrote. “That’s one way to escape an extended conflict with the government and nearby homeowners.”

Staff writer Cynthia Henry contributed to this report.