Ugly couches are one thing. Illegal couches are another.
A city ordinance proposed by Councilman Garry Gernandt of South Omaha would prohibit upholstered furniture and appliances from being kept on unenclosed porches.
Gernandt, a councilman since 2001, said the furniture and appliances are fire hazards, can harbor vermin and therefore disease, and look bad from the street.
He said he had no specific residence in mind and no desire for code inspectors to be aggressive in enforcing the proposed ordinance. Enforcement should be driven by specific complaints, he said.
Gernandt has received such complaints, he said, and inspectors currently have no provision in the city code to address the situation.
“I've been watching it for a good number of years, and I just thought the timing was right,” he said Saturday. “I'm just trying to fill a loophole here.”
The ordinance is on the City Council agenda Tuesday for first reading. A public hearing would take place at the following council meeting and a vote at the meeting after that.
Gernandt proposes to include the ordinance in a section of the city code that already prohibits “unauthorized noises and annoying vibrations,” “dressed or undressed carcasses of fish, animals or fowl” and “filthy or offensive water, swill, liquid or waste” draining from businesses onto streets and sidewalks.
Similar couch ordinances have passed in Lincoln; Ames, Iowa; and other cities. Gernandt said he used the Lincoln ordinance as a model for his own because it has been effective there.
He said an existing Omaha ordinance prohibits furniture from being stored on the city right of way in front of a house.
His proposal applies only to furniture made for indoors, including upholstered chairs and couches, appliances and mattresses. They shouldn't be kept, the proposal says, in unenclosed porches or patios or on balconies, decks, roofs, yards, driveways and walkways.
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