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Bloomington bans porch couches with new ordinance

The Bloomington city government banned upholstered furniture on porches as of December 28.

This disturbs the long-standing tradition in the college town of having a couch on the front porch. While students see it as a great place to crash between classes, city officials see a home for rats and mildew.

Porch couches were once common in America’s South. Before the advent of air conditioning, porch sitting was a way to cool off from the hot temperatures inside.

The last couple of decades have brought attempts to curtail upholstered furniture on porches and lawns. In 1998, a battle to ban porch couches in Wilson, N.C., was chronicled by the New York Times and billed as the “ultimate yuppiefication of the South” by Dan Carter, a professor of Southern history at Emory University in Atlanta.

The porch couch, which might have moved to Indiana by way of nearby southern influences, has found a home around college campuses across the country. But many communities with universities have decided to banish them from the landscape in recent years. They including Lincoln, Neb., in 2008; Pittsburgh, Pa., in 2009; Ann Arbor, Mich., in 2010; Ames, Iowa, in 2011; and Durham, N.C., in 2012. Decision-makers have cited health hazards and fire safety in imposing these ordinances.

The full legislation can be found here: Ordinance 12-27

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