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City to consider banning couches on porches

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Here's some breaking news about some oftentimes broken pieces of furniture: City officials are looking to ban couches on porches in Lawrence neighborhoods.

I know it may sound simple enough to some, but the issue may soon open up a can of worms — which by the way, have been known to be found in porch couches.

At the request of the Lawrence fire department, city officials have drafted an ordinance that would ban couches and all other types of upholstered furniture from porches and patios. Lawn chairs and other types of furniture specifically made for the outdoors would continue to be legal.

I've got a call into the fire chief, but based on a memo, the department believes the couches represent a fire hazard.

In case you have forgotten, porch couches, which have been known to create forgetfulness, are quite popular in certain college neighborhoods in Lawrence. If you don't believe me, drive through the Oread neighborhood. Or take a walking tour, like I did yesterday afternoon, stopping to lie down and escape from the heat on comfy couches that allow you to enjoy the outdoors and sometimes even allows tiny creatures from the outdoors to crawl upon you. (I'm assuming that is why my wife blasted me with a water hose when I came home yesterday, but that may be a bad assumption.)

My Lawhorn's Lawrence column on Sunday will tell some tales from the seat of a porch couch. But I can give you a little preview of what most of the students I talked with thought about the city's idea:

"Screw that," Travis Morris, a KU junior said from his combination couch porch/feline bed.

A common question was why a couch on a porch is any more flammable than a couch inside a living room. The fire department's memo doesn't address that subject, but I did hear from KU students who conceded that it is more likely that people will use the porch couch as a place to smoke. Whether it is through lease agreements or just courtesy to other roommates, many students don't smoke inside their apartments anymore, I was told.

The fire department's memo also mentions that the location of porch couches often make it difficult for residents of a house to escape out of the home's main entrance, if and when one of the couches do catch on fire. Since 2007, 10 of the 463 building fires that have occurred in Lawrence have occurred on a deck or porch that included upholstered furniture, according to the department's memo.

Several college communities already have implemented similar bans, including Lincoln, Neb., Boulder, Colo., Ames, Iowa, and Columbia, Mo. (But, I assume they do allow the SEC tradition of sitting on the hood of your car. The one on blocks in the front yard, of course. Not the one you drive. That would be hickish.)

We'll see what city commissioners do with this ordinance. It tentatively is scheduled to be discussed at their Tuesday evening meeting. The agenda for that meeting comes out this afternoon, so we'll know then.

In the meantime, chill out, relax. I can tell you where some couches are.

Comments

oneeye_wilbur 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Just put the sofa inside the garage if you have one and make sure the door faces the street. Then leave the garage door open,,,that's a good one oneeyed juanita told her brother wilbu..

Next the commission can ban garages .

we have some real dolts on the commission.

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Currahee 7 months, 3 weeks ago

It is so nice that our local lawmakers are looking out for our best interest to ban things on personal property. I volunteer the idea of getting rid of porches altogether. They're all made out of wood and therefore a fire hazard. And maybe they should just ban all things wood in buildings because they catch on fire too. Next they should look at banning ovens, stoves, and furnaces. Those things can be quite a spectacle if they don't work right!

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Matthew Herbert 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Spending time as a commission writing city ordinances that already exist and simply lack enforcement: Priceless.

Turns out, writing a law doesn't work unless you plan to enforce it. Our solution to solve a problem that exists because we won't enforce our own codes: write the code again and magically it will work time!

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Armored_One 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Not to truly disrupt the flow of froth coming from many of the contributors to this thread, but the foam used in the cushions for couches and other indoor furniture turns into a gelatinous type of napalm, burning much hotter than wood, for example. Add to that the fact that when it is struck with water, which most drunk college students will use to put out a fire, it can basically explode, spraying white hot, burning, sticky material in all directions.

It also doesn't smother very well and can release a disproportionate amount of toxic fumes when it burns.

Besides, even if this is just a beautification concept and not a legitimate health concern, what's wrong with increasing the visual appeal of the student ghetto?

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bearded_gnome 7 months, 3 weeks ago

*you're welcome Drone.


"oneeye_wilbur 1 day, 18 hours ago

Thinking,that the sofa is ok on the roof with the bar bq grill and lawn chairs and potted pants. I.e. sunflower house"

---one-eyed-walleye: "potted pants?" sounds tackier than the ratty old couches.

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oneeye_wilbur 7 months, 3 weeks ago

How about a riding mower on the porch?

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Richard Heckler 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Well it might be time to bring out the rocking chairs ....... to the front porch.

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Richard Heckler 7 months, 3 weeks ago

Landlords that neglect their properties drive down property values...... not the couch on the porch.

Who says a couch on a porch is tacky? How so?

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Drone 7 months, 3 weeks ago

"when porch couches are outlawed, then only outlaws will have porch couches"

Thank you for that one, Gnome. Made my day

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rumor_man 7 months, 3 weeks ago

So glad my futon will be allowed.

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Richard Heckler 7 months, 3 weeks ago

http://www.lawrenceks.org/city_code/system/files/chapter09.pdf , 9-613

302.11 Outdoor Furniture. It shall be unlawful for any person to allow on any yard, or other exterior area of any premises, furniture, other than Outdoor Furniture, as that term is defined in this Chapter.

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Carol Bowen 7 months, 4 weeks ago

I by no means have a silver spoon background or inclination. My working class roots would never have found indoor upholstered furniture outdoors. If students choose to live in a residential setting, they should be responsible for mature behavior and treat their real estate accordingly. Ratty furniture on a porch is unsightly, may or may not be a fire hazard. The furniture is definitely a health hazard - everything from recluse spiders to rodents. Students who choose to put upholstered furniture outdoors are trashing their neighborhoods.

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oneeye_wilbur 7 months, 4 weeks ago

Thinking,that the sofa is ok on the roof with the bar bq grill and lawn chairs and potted pants. I.e. sunflower house

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oneeye_wilbur 7 months, 4 weeks ago

The fire dept wants to hire more employees and McCulloughwants to justify his job.

The current blight ordinance can address this issue.

Will Chadhave the gumption to interview the local insurance agencies?

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Steven Gaudreau 7 months, 4 weeks ago

The Lawrence Fire Dept law makers have always been sheep who follow other towns ridiculous leads with thier chicken little behavior. For instance, there was a fire in a bar in Rhode Island in 1991ish where about 300 people crammed into a 100 person bar and lit off fireworks for a music show, people died. LFD, to this day, quotes this fire and writes tickets in bars if they are over by 10 people. Meanwhile, it's o.k. that when Wheatfield's, a place that has caught on fire, is 50 people over their occupancy every sat and sun a.m.
Four fire officials show up to review Bullwinkles remodel and one shows up for the new rec center review. Hmmmm.

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jonas_opines 7 months, 4 weeks ago

Hahaha. I think in one of the govt. buildings in Lawrence there is a giant wheel with many things on it, and when they all get that hankerin' need to really just get down and Ban something, they take that wheel for a spin.

Couches? Sounds good, ban couches! But . . . hmmmm . . . but only on porches! Ban the porch couches!

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kusp8 7 months, 4 weeks ago

"Several college communities already have implemented similar bans, including Lincoln, Neb., Boulder, Colo., Ames, Iowa, and Columbia, Mo. (But, I assume they do allow the SEC tradition of sitting on the hood of your car. The one on blocks in the front yard, of course. Not the one you drive. That would be hickish.)"

One of the THE best paragraphs I've seen in a while.

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bearded_gnome 7 months, 4 weeks ago

Liberty: just imagine how much money that Porsche/air conditioner guy had stuck down in his couch!

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bearded_gnome 7 months, 4 weeks ago

this proposed ordinance is a war on: smoking; BSing; pitching woo; and anything else that goes on on those couches.

besides, if Columbia outlaws them then of course we've gotta!

when porch couches are outlawed, then only outlaws will have porch couches.

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jane_doe 7 months, 4 weeks ago

I'm all for the front lawn sofa now. Just a pain to mow around...

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pizzapete 7 months, 4 weeks ago

This ordinance, like the noise ordinance or the three unrelated people ordinance, is another attempt at making things more difficult for college kids who want to live in converted homes on the cheap. This is one more way the city commission/developers are using to discourage college kids from renting houses or allowing them feel at home in those houses. This ordinance is just one more lame attempt to push college kids into renting an expensive apartment in a cheaply built high rise apartment building.

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oneeye_wilbur 7 months, 4 weeks ago

The buildings downtown are fire hazards. The dumpster areas downtown in the public parking lots ate fire hazards. Mayor Dever wants it. That way.

I believe the current blight ordinance addresses the couch issue. It should be the insurance industry to set the standard.

Why doesnt the reporter interview some of the local insurance companies about the sofa issue?

I bet the local agencies decline to be quoted.

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tomatogrower 7 months, 4 weeks ago

Boy they are going to break the hearts of a lot of college students. But I agree with George. Yuck!!!

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George_Braziller 7 months, 4 weeks ago

I thought there already was a ordinance against upholstered indoor furniture on porches. Why would you even WANT one on your porch? After being soaked a few times from wind-driven rain and melting snow it would be nothing more than a giant mold incubator.

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2002 7 months, 4 weeks ago

This is an embarrassingly stupid idea. If you move the same sofa inside, is it less of a hazard?

The behavior of some of the government leaders in the city is shameful. So only the rich that can afford quality outdoor furniture are exempted. Great job elitists.

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KansasPerson 7 months, 4 weeks ago

I'm a little worried. If they ban porch-sofas, then people who have nowhere else to put them will drive out just beyond the city limits and leave them there. Then they will breed uncontrollably (because face it, most people don't spay or neuter their couches) and the next thing you know there will be hundreds of little loveseats and chairs and ottomans running around.

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catfishturkeyhunter 7 months, 4 weeks ago

I would be more worried about the insects that live in those couches than I would be them burning down.

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Armstrong 7 months, 4 weeks ago

Geez, next thing ya know there will be a ban on frdges and junk cars in front yards too

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gatekeeper 7 months, 4 weeks ago

What is the difference, as far as being a fire hazard, from my outside furniture that was made to be outside? The cushions are just as flammable as a regular couch. It's weather proof, so that extra chemical or plastic component to the fabric probably makes it more flammable. The mulch outside my house if flammable. Banning it next? Heck, my house if made of wood. They'd better ban all future construction that isn't metal.

This city never ceases to amaze me. Very close to moving just outside of town.

Only the people living in "wanna be JoCo but had to settle for west Lawrence" will care if there's furniture on a porch. Leave the rest of us normal people alone. As long as my neighbors are nice, I could care less if they have a couch on their porch.

WE AREN'T JOCO AND STOP TRYING TO MAKE US JUST LIKE THEM. I left that hell hole 25 years ago for good reason.

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shanep 7 months, 4 weeks ago

Some friends of mine used to have a couch on their porch. I would stop by at my liesure and nap on it. I loved it. Then someone's ill-placed and forgotten cigarette butt caught the couch ablaze and burned down the entire house. Now that house has been replaced with the ugliest house in town (sorry if it's yours.) Porch couches breed ugly houses. Ban porch couches.

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GettingBy3 7 months, 4 weeks ago

Where will all the couches end up??? Oh I know on a dirt road.....

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jgkojak 7 months, 4 weeks ago

RIDICULOUS! 10 fires? That means about 1.3 incidents per year - any researcher at KU will tell you - you can't draw conclusions on that few pieces of data(!!!!)

Do they not have better things to do?

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Garth Atchison 7 months, 4 weeks ago

Don't lie and call it a hazard. You just don't like the look of it. Maybe we are not as free and cool as we think we are. That's OK-I like people that have standards.

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Richard Heckler 7 months, 4 weeks ago

"I thought this was already a violation of some city code."

There is. However someone must call in and ask about enforcement.... if my memory serves me well

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joes_donuts 7 months, 4 weeks ago

Go ahead and pass this ordinance because it will not matter, the fire department is the worst when it comes to enforcing ordinances. They just expect other departments at the city to do their work. They pushed through the smoking ban, but I can name many bars were people still smoke indoors. They pushed through the ban on grills on decks, but don't enforce it. They pushed through the fireworks ban but don't enforce it. What makes anyone think they will follow through on this one?

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Chris Jeter 7 months, 4 weeks ago

I would guess someone with some clout at the fire department lives in a neighborhood with lots of couches on porches and just doesn't like them

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irvan moore 7 months, 4 weeks ago

shouldn't the historical society people get involved to save the couches

2

snitty 7 months, 4 weeks ago

Considering that almost all couches sold in this country have been marinated in fire-retardants, I would think they pose no fire threat AT ALL.

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jack22 7 months, 4 weeks ago

What's next, no patio furniture on my deck? No alcoholic beverages or glass near my backyard swimming pool? Or is this just aimed at poor people who don't have or can't afford air conditioning and who use the front porch as a way to escape the heat of their house?

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oneeye_wilbur 7 months, 4 weeks ago

The bar bq grill an has never been enforced.

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myop 7 months, 4 weeks ago

What about banning porches made out of wood? They are definitely a fire hazard. Heck, your whole house is a fire hazard unless it's made out of steel. We can't live in trees, because they are made out of wood too. This whole earth is a fire hazard-global warming. I think this is ridiculous. If people want a couch, sofa, duvan, bed on their front porch-let 'em. We don't need big brother telling us what can go in or on our own homes.

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gl0ck0wn3r 7 months, 4 weeks ago

People put couches on their Porsches?

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jack22 7 months, 4 weeks ago

I'm not surprised our city commission is proposing this, the same ones who have let a few developers overbuild our city with cheap apartment buildings. Welcome to the continued Johnson Countification of our once unique and diverse city. These guys won't be happy until Lawrence looks like every other paint it beige housing development in America.

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Nick Schmiedeler 7 months, 4 weeks ago

Our porch is made of couches, stacked about 6 high, with a pillow-tunnel that acts as the front door path. Please don't ban my couch porch/rat hotel.

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SpeedRacer 7 months, 4 weeks ago

Everyone knows that couches belong in the yard; porches are for rocking chairs.

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Dan Rose 7 months, 4 weeks ago

PittState banned them many years ago (mid-90s) - the fire reasoning is just the City's (Lawrence's) go-to reason ppl - it's because it makes the houses look trashy, and I agree with the ban the from that standpoint... it is part of traditional co-habitating in Lawrence!

FYI

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Karl_Hungus 7 months, 4 weeks ago

First they came for your candy, then they came for your partner and now they are coming for your couches...thank god I can have 50,000 guns to stand my ground....wait, to sit on my porch and defend my sofa!

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jane_doe 7 months, 4 weeks ago

Better ban having a foot in a bucket on your front porch too...

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jafs 7 months, 4 weeks ago

I thought this was already a violation of some city code.

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Ronnie24 7 months, 4 weeks ago

It seems to me that the city and fire dept would have more important things to worry about than to look for and ban couches on front porches .

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Phoghorn 7 months, 4 weeks ago

If you miss having a couch on your porch, you can by a vacation home in Morgantown and put a couch on the porch. Just make sure that your couch is in a safe location after a Mountaineer win.

Aside from that, in Morgantown you can admire the beautiful scenery. It is very pretty there at all times of the year. Maybe the commissioners in our fair city do not appreciate sitting on the porch on a fine fall day.

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Adrienne Sanders 7 months, 4 weeks ago

Wait, 10 out of 463 fires only?? Has anything else caused 10 fires since 2007? Are we banning it?

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Matthew Herbert 7 months, 4 weeks ago

will existing couches on porches be grandfathered in? (=

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