Indoor furniture is flammable, especially when placed outdoors. Discuss.

Porch couch ban of 2010


During the summer of 2004, Ann Arbor's City Council discussed a proposal to ban couches and other upholstered furniture from porches - a common feature in the near-downtown residential neighborhoods. The proposal was based on the claim that outdoor upholstery posed a special fire hazard, with a house fire earlier that summer used as evidence; e-mails between Council member Leigh Greden and members of the Old Fourth Ward Neighborhood Association, leaked by students on the OFW's e-mail list and published on various local blogs, showed an additional concern by association members that the couches were "eyesores". Council was urged to take up the issue quickly, so that a ban could be in place at the beginning of the campus-area lease cycle in September, with the added bonus that passing such a ban during the summer would minimize the opportunity for students - cast as the targets of the ban - to object.

After these e-mails were published, a resistance movement was launched via blogs and e-mail, including hyperbolic(?) pledges to carry couches to City Hall and light them on fire in the event that the ban passed. Enough dissent was heard that Council action on the ban was pushed back to September, in the name of permitting a full hearing, and then tabled indefinitely. (Later e-mails on the OFW e-mail list, again posted to AAiO lamented students' "access to technology" and questioned the use of e-mail as a valid form of civic participation.)

While the proposal seems unlikely to ever receive a formal hearing before Council, it is still occasionally invoked by bloggers taking potshots at neighborhood associations, by activists attempting to shake students out of their apathy towards local civics, or by the Ann Arbor News, which mentions the ban whenever a clear cause cannot be found for a house fire in the near-neighborhoods.