Durham cracks down on porch furniture

June 18, 2012 5:36:19 PM PDT
Shannon Scales loves to sit on her front porch - in her chair.

"It's really comfortable," she explained.

But now, thanks to a new city ordinance that went into effect earlier this month, Scales' chair, and other types of indoor furniture, are banned from porches in Durham.

"I think that's terrible. You should be able to have whatever type of seating you want on your porch," said Scales.

But Rick Hester, the assistant director of Durham's Neighborhood Improvement Services explained how the ordinance makes sense.

"We feel like if we keep the front porch and the furniture clean, then it'll go a long way toward helping the neighborhood," he said.

Hester said the city has received complaints from residents who don't want to see indoor furniture outside, and it's as much about health as it is appearance.

"It gets wet. It's not made to be outside. You'll have all kinds of bugs, all kinds of vermin in it, snakes, rats, whatever," said Hester.

So far, no citations have been issued because enforcement has been complaint driven. That will change starting next month when city inspectors will be coming out into neighborhoods to look for offenders.

The city will send out a notice to people who are breaking the law and give them 10 days to remove the furniture. If it doesn't get done, city crews will do it for them and put a lien on the property for the cost of removal.  

"The property owner will actually end up having to bear the cost if it gets that far," said Hester.

But Scales said she'd like the city to stay off her front porch.

"They have better things to do than figure out who's got a couch on their porch but if it's the law, it's the law," she said.

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