Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Save the Couches Campaign

DETROIT FREE PRESS - Matt Grinshpun spends hours on the three couches on the porch of his big red house on Oakland Street in Ann Arbor. Grinshpun, a junior at the University of Michigan, and his 14 roommates at the Lester House co-op use them as a place to study, visit and even dine during the warm months. "I live on this porch," said Grinshpun, 19, of Midland as he lounged last week on a dark green couch with floral cushions. "When fall starts, 15 people will eat dinner on the porch. Couches are rather central to the way things work around here."

But Ann Arbor fire officials say the couches are a fire hazard and want them removed from hundreds of front porches in student neighborhoods around campus, where they are often placed near a barbeque grill. The couches have created a major debate in Ann Arbor as the City Council prepares to vote tonight on an ordinance to ban upholstered furniture of all kinds on outside porches and decks. Many students say the proposed ordinance infringes on their property rights and vow to mount a "save the sofa" campaign next month. The council has scheduled a Sept. 7 public hearing before taking a second vote, which is required to pass the ordinance.

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