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For Some, Wind Chimes Ruin Life's Symphony

Noise: Leisure World ponders banning them at some complexes. At issue is a sense that breezes should be felt, not heard.


With apologies to Bob Dylan, the chimes they are a-changin'.

Directors of a Leisure World neighborhood association Tuesday will consider banning wind chimes from multistory apartment complexes in part of the Laguna Woods retirement community.

If the chimes are outlawed, they would join such banned basics of suburban life as portable basketball hoops from Laguna Hills cul-de-sacs, boats and recreational vehicles from Irvine driveways, and frontyard fences in Glendale.

At issue is a sense that the wind should be felt, not heard--or at least not at levels louder than the whisper of rustling leaves.

"I think probably it would be a good idea, because we do live close together," said resident Marjorie Reish, who said she has a wind chime on her patio but hasn't bothered to give the issue much thought. "I don't think it's a big thing."

Reish said one of her neighbors had a chime that tolled loudly whenever the wind picked up, keeping her and her husband awake at night.

"My husband just went over and asked if he could take it down on windy days and nights," Reish said.

Officials for Leisure World's Third Mutual board, which represents about 6,000 homes, declined to detail the proposal for a reporter.

One board member said privately that the measure would probably be tabled without action during a regular meeting Tuesday morning and the measure returned to the association's landscape committee for revising.

The issue is tied to another proposal the landscape committee is pushing that would limit potted plants on condo balconies. The reason: Over-watering has rotted external wood on the two- and three-story complexes, which contain about two dozen units, said Phyllis Fish, committee chairwoman.

Fish described the wind-chime proposal as creating a system for processing complaints about the devices, though she declined to say whether any complaints had been filed.

"The proposal is to eliminate them because it's an annoyance to the other neighbors," Fish said. "Some people have wind chimes that are quite delightful to hear, and others have the ones that bong."

For some residents, though, the proposal sounds an odd note.

"Right now, I'm listening on the TV to what's going on, all the horrible things that have been done, and I think, My God, you mean to tell me you spend time and money and want to put in the bylaws that people can't have wind chimes?" said an amused Myrtle Bailey, 82. "I think it's juvenile."

Bailey sees the measure--which, like Reish, she had barely noticed--as evidence that people are becoming increasingly helpless when it comes to solving minor problems, even in a place like Leisure World, where life experience, as measured in years, might be unparalleled.

"It's very difficult to please everyone," Bailey sighed, then laid out a scenario in which a neighbor might not realize that the sound of tinkling metal could be driving others to the brink.

"A person could simply go over there and knock on the door and say, 'I think that's very nice but I need to sleep,' " she said. "Or maybe they could just buy some sleeping tablets."

Or maybe--more apologies to Dylan--they could find the solution blowin' in the wind.

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