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Little Old Lady Calls Her Two-Story Cross an Expression of God's Love, Her West Hills Neighbors Call It an Eyesore
Laly Dobener is a petite, unassuming 72-year-old, whose lawn ornamentation has made a big statement in her West Hills cul-de-sac.
Dobener put up a two-story white cross on her front lawn that she says is a symbol of God's love. There are blood-red paint splotches, representing where Jesus' hands and feet would have been nailed, and a crown of thorns under a sign that says, "Jesus I trust in you."
The cross represents Jesus' pain at his crucifixion, but Dobener doesn't understand how the sign is hurting anyone else.
"It is my way of expressing my love to God and to the world ... to bring God's love to everyone," she told The Los Angeles Daily News.
Her neighbors on Hyannis Drive don't see it that way.
"It's bad enough how property values are these days," neighbor Laurie Biener said. "Then you have something like this affecting them even more ... It's like she's making a statement for the whole neighborhood, and that is just not right."
Neighbors have been asking her to tear down the cross, but Dobener isn't budging. City officials have been called in to make sure the sign doesn't break any zoning laws. Officials in Pennsylvania and New Jersey have ordered residents to take down similarly-oversized crosses, citing zoning laws, but residents challenged those orders in court.
Luke Goodrich, an attorney at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, said government agencies can't just ask anyone to tear down an unpopular symbol — they have to prove that the religious symbol could harm residents or pose a hazard.
"In many cases the question is would you deal with it in the same way if it was tacky Christmas decorations or a tacky color choice for a house," he told The Daily News.