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Should the City outlaw grilling on apartment balconies and decks?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on July 17, 2005

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Photo of Nathan Atwood

“Yes, they should. It’s a fire hazard. Unattended fires can get out of hand with the grease and whatnot.”

Photo of Alison Ryan

“I don’t think so, because I’m moving into an apartment this year, and I want to grill. As long as people are careful, it shouldn’t be a problem.”

Photo of Ben Salba

“No. I lived in a college town, and I don’t see a problem with it as long as the people grilling take some responsibility.”

Photo of Ginny Williamson

“I don’t think that should be banned. You should be able to grill on your own deck. People should just be careful.”

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lunacydetector 12 years, 6 months ago

a wooden deck or balcony i understand, but having people move their grills 10 feet away from the building is ridiculous. they will be moving their grill into the yard. the yard of grass or the concrete patio? i'd prefer the patio myself, plus i bet it is safer than burning over grass, ya think? duh

GreenEyedBlues 12 years, 6 months ago

Grill away and have a smoke! Throw the smoldering butts on your neighbor's balcony for giggles.

Richard Heckler 12 years, 6 months ago

No grilling not only because of fire. The firestarters and charcoal briquets are sources of carcinogens(more opportunity for cancer cells).

No large keg parties. Drunk guys testerone gets the best of them so they argue,fight and begin to think women want to have sex with them aka rape. How many times have we heard rape blamed on drugs/alcohol but never on soda pop or cheeseburgers?

Drunks and grills simply do not mix however grilling on a roundabout might actually be very out for the cars. Never know who might drop by.

spym00se 12 years, 6 months ago

Why not? They've outlawed everything else!

kutwitch 12 years, 6 months ago

With questions like this and the banning of non-crap fireworks and exotic animals I need reminding of why this town is considered liberal.

sunflower_sue 12 years, 6 months ago

Let's ban everything! Let's especially ban women who have given birth more than once from wearing bikinis at the pool (this includes me). Let's also ban men in speedos and those with too much back hair (unless, of course, they have it waxed). Let's ban violent tattoos...little bunny's and butterflies are still OK. Let's ban BADLY prepared over-priced food (like the eggs benedict I had yesterday morning where my muffin was not toasted and the eggs were cooked SOLID!) UNBELIEVEABLE!!!! Let's ban sneezing...people feel free to spread way too many germs. Let's ban gasious bodily smells bad. Let's ban teenagers...they can sometimes be annoying. Let's ban spandex leggings...they went OUT in the 80's. Let's ban people in public restrooms who do not wash their hands after using the facilities. The doors should just lock down or something until they have washed properly. I'm sure I can go on, but then I may just want to ban myself from this board.

Hong_Kong_Phooey 12 years, 6 months ago

Now they're going to ban grills? What next? I know...let's ban sandals because somebody might stub their toes. Let's ban forks because the tynes might poke somebody in the mouth if used carelessly. Let's ban swingsets because kids have fallen off of them and hurt themselves. Let's ban books because somebody might get a crazy idea for another contraption that, incidentally, would have to be banned.

Life is unpredictable, nobody lives forever and this commission has got to go...

ms_canada 12 years, 6 months ago

Any apartment owners in this crowd today? No? Sure there is. Me and my good man! We have three buildings. Ever had a fire in your home? Ever lived in a building where a fire occurred? No? Lucky you. We have had fires in our buildings and it is no fun, especially for the little old ladies who get rousted in the middle of the night with their doors busted in by big, burly firemen trying to rouse them from their dreamless sleep. (They don't hear the alarm, poor dears.) Maybe the city does not ban BBQ's but my hubby sure as heck does. Lives are at stake. We love our little old lady tenants. They are the best. We have one lady who has lived in our building since 1975 and we don't want to lose her just yet. If the tenant does not like the ban, he is free to move. Harsh? You bet, but our tenants love our buildings and feel safe.

Redneckgal 12 years, 6 months ago

Lets ban pesky little building inspectors and building code enforcment people and fire marshalls. We recently helped my bro and sis in law remodel a bathroom so sis could have a daycare and let me tell you. I don't know how anyone gets a project done. We had to change so many things that were not even related to safety issues. It left us laughing (you either laugh or cry) and wondering if they were in co-hoots with the local lumber yard to add cost to the project. We laughingly wondered if they were going to let us know what color we could paint the room when we got done.

Bill Martin 12 years, 6 months ago

Awww Heck,

Top Balcony, grilling, usually involves beer (note usually) I just think it's a dumb thing to do, I wouldn't do it, does it need banning, probably, but it won't happen until someone's apt building goes down in smoke because of it. People get crazy when it comes to the word "Ban" I mean, the whole diatribes, let's ban forks, people who don't wash their hands in the bathroom, etc...doesn't answer the issue, in fact, one just thinks they are banning grills...not the issue of a grill on the balcony of the second or third floor of an apt. building. I live in one, I get nervous when people grill above me, I don't want to see what precious little I have get destroyed because of an accident that's meant to happen. It's just a matter of common sense. Think of the balconies with board construction, not solid, cracks for the legs of the grill to get caught in and fall over..the roof of the apt above them should the fire get out of hand when starting the charcoal...but if it's all cement, have at it. It's the wood balconies that concern me.

sunflower_sue 12 years, 6 months ago

ms_canada, You are a responsible person and I applaud you taking care of your neighbors. I really don't know what the #'s are on fires from grilling in Lawrence. Honestly, it's never a good idea to light a fire on a wooden structure...especially when in close proximity to others. (I don't even grill on my own deck and I live 500 yards from the nearest structure.)

I think we, as people of Lawrence, are just getting tired of our city council who seems to be a little "ban happy" as of late. But, you are right. If I lived in an apartment, I would not want anyone lighting fires around me. I think we are just afraid of what they will decide to ban next (good or bad). We tend to be overprotective of our civil liberties. That's where our sarcasm and/or hostility is coming from.

justathought 12 years, 6 months ago

YES of course and all other fire producing things including but not limited to: Stoves, lighters, matches, smokes, fireplaces, curling irons (and related items). I also say any candy with the word "fire" in it's name should go. Oh oh and while we are at at movies because parents couldn't find babysitters...because that really annoys me.....

tell_it_like_it_is 12 years, 6 months ago

If you own the building you call the shots period. Actually I 'm a little surprised that more landlords haven't done that own their in Lawrence. But no more bans. Enough already.

Hong_Kong_Phooey 12 years, 6 months ago

justathought: I agree - those freakin' teenagers at the movie theaters are really annoying. I think we should be able to use a taser on them if they act up. Or a cattleprod. Better yet...we should be able to put them in stocks and throw rotten produce at them!

average 12 years, 6 months ago

I would be seriously surprised if there is a multistory apartment building in this town that doesn't ban grilling on wooden balconies. I checked.. it was in the last two rental agreements I signed.

The owner banning it is about as effective as a city ban would be. That is, not at all. I've had neighbors starting fires with flames reaching not only the balcony above them, but my balcony above them and in the next apartment over.

I'm done with apartments, partly because I don't trust my life to anyone smart enough to start large leaping fires on wooden balconies.

In part, though, this problem stems from other bans. I think residents would use communal grills/firepits/picnic tables if everyone wasn't so uptight about public consumption of alcohol.

Ember 12 years, 6 months ago

Yet again, another fine example of how the idiocy of a sparce few ruins the world for the rest of us.

I full heartedly endorse the right of a property owner deciding what can and cannot be done on their property. I certainly enjoy that liberty with my property.

I do not, however, endorse this 'Cure the world by banning everything' philosophy this current city governing body has adopted in the last decade or so. It solves absolutely nothing, such as the case of indoor smoking. It can't be proved beyond a reasonable doubt that second hand smoke is the only reason people get sick. Indoor air is 100 times more polluted than outdoor air, if only from dust mites, allergens and dead skin cells that are floating about willy nilly. But I digress.

Banning grilling is honestly a very low blow for this city. A handful of charcoal briquettes is extremely cheaper than what it costs to run the gas or electricy for however long you intend on cooking. I grill outside as much as possible to save myself at least a little money on my utilities.

Plus, a steak/hamburger/fish/hot dog/[fill in the blank] usually tastes better when it's cooked on an open flame, not to mention it's definately healthier.

Bill Martin 12 years, 6 months ago

Again, it's not just "grilling" it's grilling on an unsafe area, ie. Balconies. Does anyone actually read the question fully before going on a rant, or a few of the replies and go from there?

Bill Martin 12 years, 6 months ago

Err, Apt. Balconies :D Which would not include someone's private home with a balcony, who could grill the heck out of whatever they want, even their own home if something went wrong, which I imagine happens quite frequently

Jayhawk226 12 years, 6 months ago

I've been grilling on my deck for years now... or not, I'm still grilling.

Richard Heckler 12 years, 6 months ago

Hey Landlords,

I think cooking on wood floors is absurd so why not provide sheltered areas with electricity and/or picnic tables for your tenants with plenty of rubbish receptacles. At $250-$400 a bedroom it seems this is the least you could do. Self imposed noise curfews might be a blessing as well.

If you want tenants to respect self imposed bans how do you enforce such restrictions? If it were me I'd evict on the spot or else what good is the ban. Not only that their deposit would be history. If landlords won't enforce a restriction and people die as a result.... LAWSUITS. Also how about a clause stating responsiblity for a fire will hold tenant financially responsible for loss of other tenants personal belongings etc.etc. It costs taxpayers a ton of dough to have emergency personnel on the run.

Sounds to me like it's time for all property owners to come together as a group and set forth some rigid restrictions that will be acceptable to the city and county officials.

First Management newer structures are probaly fire traps cuz they like to cut corners during construction so the rumors go...of course what does that say for inspectors and code enforcement.

chevygal 12 years, 6 months ago

NO!!!! this city just LOVES to ban stuff dont they?!??

hey all im in cali right now soakin up the sun and i just thought id see whats happenin back in L-town....hope all is well...

Manson 12 years, 6 months ago

Has anyone seen that In Living Color episode with Fire Marhall Bill? Ya know the one where he goes arround inspecting things and trying to prevent disaster of daily activities? No?....... Well that is our city commission. This is just another example of the City priortizing medeal daily activities that pose minor danger. I say let the apartment owner decide. If The owner feels it's a great enough risk then have the tennants sign off on it. Just about everything we do in daily life poses possible catastrophy. It's IDIOTIC to try and prevent it all !!!! Driving a car is most definately more dangerous than griling on an apartment deck. The city's socialistic agenda is well on it's way to oversee and regulate everything we do. Soon enough we won't be able to Defficate without permission .

Manson 12 years, 6 months ago

Ms. Canada has it right. The owners get to decide.

Redneckgal 12 years, 6 months ago

Hey chevygal don't you feel guilty out there in Cali while the rest of us are back here in good ole humid Kansas roasting away? Just finished mowing my yard and I think it must be 115 in the shade! Hope I didn't violate any grilling bans because I think I got "grilled" pretty well without even trying. Have a good time out there and take care.

beatrice 12 years, 6 months ago

A question: If I own a gas station, can I decide whether or not customers can smoke while filling their tanks? I know the dangers, but can I choose to ignore them out of convenience? Just asking.

re grills: Have there been fires from grills in Lawrence? Fireworks are airborn, so I appreciate that ban, but grills seem to me easier to "control."

tell_it_like_it_is 12 years, 6 months ago

Now smoking at gas stations is one ban that probably is okay.

chevygal 12 years, 6 months ago

hey redneckgal...i do feel kinda guilty...but its hott here too, not too humid though, just hott...well bout to head to the beach! see yall later!

Redneckgal 12 years, 6 months ago

Manson..yes i remember fire marshell Bill..and yes he was just funny as heck! and reminds me of some of the wild things they came up with during our remodel of my brother's bathroom too!

ms_canada 12 years, 6 months ago

Re: the ban by apartment owners. When we did this, we had thought about setting up a picnic table in the back yard of the buildings and providing a gas BBQ which would be kept in the shed (which is not attached to the main building) that people could reserve a time and use for a small fee to pay for the gas. But the sheds get broken into. We have lost 2 snow blowers this way ( $1400 each) so ruled that out. It was a nice idea, but with all the rotten thieves around, well that put the kybosh to that nice idea.

hottruckinmama 12 years, 6 months ago

if you can't grill outside i highly recommend a foreman grill. i have one and love it. not quiet the same as bar-b-que but close. it can be the devil to clean though.

49cent 12 years, 6 months ago

LOL bob, I have a BM from KU, it's the most important BM I've ever had. Do the grills have directions and warnings?

beatrice 12 years, 6 months ago

tell_it ... . Thank you for being honest enough to admit that there actually can be laws placed on business owners that are aimed at ensuring the safety of employess and patrons. Thus you and I both agree that safety is important, but we don't agree on how far things should go in trying to make things safe.

Many of these "bans" in Lawrence are safety issues, where the actions of one person could possibly harm another.

This is where this new grilling issue comes in, which I'm not sure I agree with.

dacs23 12 years, 6 months ago

So what if we lose a few complexes in Lawrence, its not like we are running short on them (another soap box). I see it as a cleansing of the earth just like the annual burning of fields. To the point:. Most places I have rented from have been built cheaply and were in dire need of some improvement. I say focus on better construction and fire systems. For all the shady land lords out there, if the building is inadequate then raze it, or burn it. Be sure to build your decks out of redwood though because it's not health to burn CCA lumber. Use cedar for maximum smoke flavor. Smoke damage isn't so bad if it smells like Mojo's. By the way, what happened to Mojo's....Sorry for my ADD tangent.

tell_it_like_it_is 12 years, 6 months ago

beatrice..I don't live right in Lawrence but really am surpried that the landlords haven't already banned this. I lived in a rooming house for a few months right out of high school and I couldn't even have a hot plate.

dacs23 12 years, 6 months ago

In regards to bans, I say we ban the talking about bans especially the smoking ban because, come on, that wagon headed out west long ago. Find a new one to jump on. I feel bans only affect those who get so up tight about them. Those of us who ignore them have a great life. Really how many people actually get ticketed for shooting off fireworks. I called the police on an out-of-hand party once and three hours later when they arrive, the party was over. Lesson learned : party away. My father once said locks don't keep criminals out, they keep honest people honest. Man I loved all those visits with my dad as a child. He must have been an important man too, with all those guards protecting him while I was there.

missmagoo 12 years, 6 months ago

no smoking, no grilling, no fireworks, what's driving?

hottruckinmama 12 years, 6 months ago

naw miss magoo they'll just put a little computer chip in your car so they can know where your at how fast your driving and who's with you at all times.

Mari Aubuchon 12 years, 6 months ago


There are approximately 6,500 fires a year in the US caused by grills.

(Personally, I would be very angry if I lost my home, my possessions, and my pets for someone's steak.)


If you think that you aren't paying higher insurance because of your fireplace, just check your policy.

tell_it_like_it_is 12 years, 6 months ago

Well now I think banning fireplaces might be going a bit far.

rhd99 12 years, 6 months ago

missmagoo: "no smoking, no grilling, no fireworks, what's driving?"

HMM, let's see, no driving+no swimming+EMMINENT DOMAIN+NO whatever else=City government Leaders WILL NOT be paid, & you know what that means: DENNIS HIGHBERGER is OUSTED as "Mayor" of Lawrence. Better yet, if Highberger can't be ousted, WE can REFUSE to pay his salary while he's on city commission. The school board members aren't paid, then maybe the City & County commissions ought NOT to be paid either. That's it "NO SALARY" for the city & county Commissioners.

hottruckinmama 12 years, 6 months ago

i'm tellin' you them libreal leftie democrats are gonna put computer chips in your car. they're gonna know where your at at all times and how much gas your using then tax you on it. its all part of the new world order.

rhd99 12 years, 6 months ago

If this is what they call the "NEW WORLD ORDER", try this one on for size, "NEW WORLD CHAOS". Well, then we all need to get a petition asking for our fellow Lawrencians to pledge that if we see one more BAN in this city, the city & county commissioners WILL NOT ever earn a salary AGAIN. They work for YOU & ME. Ban this, Ban that, it's gonna cost 'em & it's going to cost BIG.

hottruckinmama 12 years, 6 months ago

new world i like that. turn on tune in drop out!

linux_chick 12 years, 6 months ago

I wonder if LJW is against banning in general.

Maybe that has something to do with why we're getting so many rapid-fire should we ban x questions of the day.

Either that, or they seem to be pleading w/ Lawrence to not go ban-crazy.

hottruckinmama 12 years, 6 months ago

new world good republicans we sould stage a sit-in at city hall. course we couldn't have anybody on lsd trips or anything like that because we all know them drugs are only for democrats. we could get some rotgut whiskey. that oughta be good for a trip or two. hum....i'm still thinking on this one but it sounds like a good idea

Ceallach 12 years, 6 months ago

The complex where my daughter lives provides a brick grill (she just uses foil under her food and makes little holes). The complex also furnishes an adjacent "patio" area with a large rock table and rock benches. This area is located between two buildings so not near enough to either one to cause a fire hazard. This area provides a good atmosphere for socializing with neighbors, whether they stop by on the way to their apartments or just say hello and tell you the food smells great. Just good neighborly fun.

Building owners should have the right to restrict the use of grills on their balconies and decks. There is no need for the city to "outlaw" the grilling. I have lived in Lawrence a long time and have never seen so much banning. If it weren't so darn annoying it would be funny. Point is the commission acts like they are in office to protect us from ourselves. No more banning!!

opeter 12 years, 6 months ago

After numerous fires in apartment complex roofs the City of Shawnee, Ks adopted and enforces the following ordinance as an answer to a question on their web site. :

Am I allowed to barbecue on my apartment balcony?

No. The City of Shawnee adopted a new Fire Code in 2005, in which the burning of charcoal or propane grills within 10 feet of combustible construction, in apartments or multifamily dwellings of more than two units, is not allowed.

Liberty 12 years, 6 months ago

I wonder at what point the people will start to limit the city's power or supposed power or is it just unlimited and there are no limits to what they can make people do on their own property?

The city ordering people to jump in the lake may not be as far fetched as was once thought... Wet people won't burn...

tell_it_like_it_is 12 years, 6 months ago

Somebody on TV said one time that we could have a completly safe society if only we where willing to give up a number of our freedoms. Personslly I would rather live a little on the dangerous side. But I'm afraid that we are heading to that safe society quickly.

1derer 12 years, 6 months ago

While reading through todays entries I had pretty much decided that Lawrence officials are taking their ban authority too far. Then I read that the City of Shawnee has a nearly identical ban so it must be right. Shawnee is a richer and therefore smarter City than Lawrence, so of course, yes, we must be like Shawnee. I just hope Lenexa doesn't disagree, if they do, man, we won't know what course of action will be best for Lawrence.

Horace 12 years, 6 months ago

Banned in Lenexa and OP as well, at least I was told as much by super's.

Grilling on a deck is just plain dumb, darwin award dumb. What makes it worthy of a ban is that you are endangering the lives of your neighbors.

Richard Heckler 12 years, 6 months ago

It's the fire department staff that seems to be requesting this ordinance. They should know first hand how much of a problem careless cookers pose. Obviously some landlords have it written into contracts so just maybe landlords will be pleased with an ordinance which supports their cause. In other words this is not a new concept just maybe now citations can be written for those who do not honor their contractual agreements.

I would not doubt that insurance rates move UP for rental properties when a fire has been reported as a result of a cooker...after all fire damage claims must be paid by the insurers.

What we lack on this chatboard are the details.

Commissioners Rundle and Hack supported the fireworks ban and they get re-elected. David Dunfield was relected after supporting the fireworks ban. Jim Henry also supported the ban however he chose not to run again but had he chosen to stay it was likely he would have been re-elected. Marty Kennedy did not support the ordinance and was defeated.

Business is good in spite of the smoking ban. It would have been fine with me if that matter had been put to a vote as I have no doubt in my mind that the smoking ban would have been soundly supported.

gccs14r 12 years, 6 months ago

<<Posted by hottruckinmama on July 17 at 4:48 p.m.

i'm tellin' you them libreal leftie democrats are gonna put computer chips in your car. they're gonna know where your at at all times and how much gas your using then tax you on it. its all part of the new world order.>>

If your car has an airbag, it records vehicle telemetry and holds it for later downloading after deployment. People have been prosecuted based on airbag data. OnStar gives up even more information. My current vehicles don't have computers or airbags. I like it that way.

beatrice 12 years, 6 months ago

I find it humorous how many of the people who identify themselves with the conservative right on this board are actually aligning themselves with the anarchists on the issues -- no laws, no government. Is that really how you feel? Very strange.

Fangorn 12 years, 6 months ago

Let's ban bans! This city is starting to make me think of that old Monty Python skit about Spam. But instead of Spam, spam, spam...., it's Ban, ban, ban....

Let the owner decide. There may be some comparison to the ban on smoking while fueling your car, but there's also a huge difference between gasoline vapors being ignited by a lit cigarette and other combustibles like wood being ignited by flames from a grill. The former represents a much higher risk.

Beatrice: Anarchists want there to be no rulers or leaders (that's what the word means, after all). Conservatives merely want our government to be limited in its scope and power. That's what our federal and state constitutions were meant to accomplish.

rhd99 12 years, 6 months ago

Fang, thank you. Thank you very much. You have UNDERLINED for many of us the reason we are debating this issue with grills & my issue with this BAN & other STUPID bans. MAYOR JONG-IL does not get it. I have had it with STUPID rules that prohibit freedom of choice. This MAYOR has been a part of those stupid rules being put into effect. Now, am I anarchist? NO!!!! I am simply showing my disdain for STUPID government rules that DO NOT serve a purpose for the good of this great community. It's time, as you said Fang, to "ban bans". The people, with whom some do not agree, do get elected, & that is the beauty of democracy. Make no mistake, however that whoever you vote for or for whom I may vote, WORK FOR US. That's right, YOU & I. We certainly can oust them in the elections.

italianprincess 12 years, 6 months ago

I would like to BAN the lady who was trying to pull into Checkers tonight while holding her dog in her lap and chatting on her cell phone. Wouldn't have been to funny if she hit my car because of her dog and chatting.

Come on people...........if you need to drive with you dog put it in the back seat and not in your lap. If you need to chat wait until you pull into a parking spot then chat your little heads off.

As far as BBQs on patios and decks. Kinda dangerous if you decide to leave it unattended and it catches fire.

Basically in so many words here........NOT TO BRIGHT ARE YOU!!!!!!!!!!

rhd99 12 years, 6 months ago

Italianprincess, people who voted for Ban Barnstorming BOOG, that's their problem. I did not vote for him. Apparently, though, people who don't think for themselves need people like HIM to dictate to the rest of us, as you said "NOT" too "BRIGHT ARE" they!!! ENOUGH!!!! Time to start planning Boog's election demise. Now's the time to get it going.

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