Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Porch Couch Ban Language Online

18. July 2004 • Scott Trudeau
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The proposed language for the couch ban ordinance has been posted on the Ann Arbor City Clerks web site as part of the City Council’s Current Agenda. The agenda is a 200+ page PDF file, so I have posted relevant sections in the ArborUpdate library here.

The memo describing the ordinance to council is from the fire chief, Joseph A. Gorman. The primary rationale is that they believe upholstered furniture outdoors poses a fire hazard. The proposed penalty is $100. Some choice quotes:

Other reasons for enacting these bans is that sofas and other upholstered furniture are readily available fuel sources in civil disobedience situations, political protest, and revelry generally associated with sporting events…

... upholstered furniture in outdoor locations creates several additional problems including a blighted appearance of the neighborhood, an attraction for the homeless, and a breeding area for pestilence when sofas become damaged, ripped or weather-exposed.

The proposed ordinance has been presented to the University of Michigan’s Off-campus Housing Advisory Board and has received support from the student groups represented as well as the landlord’s.

Which student groups actually supported this ordinance? Whither the Ann Arbor Tenant’s Union?

Note that this Monday’s meeting is the first reading of the ordinance. The second reading and public hearing on the ordinance will happen at a future council meeting. In the interim, I recommend contacting your city council representatives and the mayor to express your opinion on the ordinance and begin to organize your friends.



  1. So, should we all just wait and focus our energies on the 2nd reading, then? I suppose a few of us could sign up for those pre-approved public address spots tomorrow, but we won’t be able to say much en-masse ‘til the 2nd reading.
       —Brandon    Jul. 18 '04 - 02:22PM    #
  2. Us Arbor Updaters have a meeting at 8pm Monday—so most of us can’t make it. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to speak out against it, if you can get room on the agenda, however.
       —Scott T.    Jul. 18 '04 - 03:36PM    #
  3. The Fire Department hopes to achieve a reduction in nuisance-type fires where sofas are often burned in the streets in the middle of the night at the end of the winter semester.

    Am I the only one who has no clue what they’re talking about?
       —Murph    Jul. 19 '04 - 10:36AM    #
  4. Shit, Murph, that’s what you get for living around North Campus. I mean, everybody knows about these annual spasms of rampant couch-burning in the streets… no, wait. I guess I don’t have a clue any more.

    It’s weird that if you take a porch couch into “the streets” it’s still a porch couch. A nuisance.
       —Brian    Jul. 19 '04 - 12:50PM    #