New Bulk Trash Rules In East Lansing to Help Fight Couch Fires

When Michigan State senior Rikki Jarvis went to move out of her off-campus home, this summer, an internship didn't give her much time to work with.

"You only had that one day to move everything and we did have an entertainment center that we put out there for free," said Jarvis.

It's what many students do with big furniture, like mattresses, dressers and couches they no longer have room for; put it on the curb and have the city come by and pick it up for a $15 fee, but sometimes, furniture would be left out for days, becoming both an eyesore and public safety issue.

City Manager George Lahanas hopes a new ordinance, voted through by the East Lansing City Council last week, will put that issue to rest.

"Before this, it was three days that you could have this on the curb, before you received a violation notice," said Lahanas. "Now, that's down to either two hours with in-person notice, or eight hours with notice left at the house."

If it isn't taken off the curb before then, violators could be slapped with a $220 fine and additional removal costs. Lahanas says the new rule isn't about money, but promoting a clean community and tackling an on-going problem.

"We've had this challenge of people setting furniture on fire," he said.

East Lansing's struggles with couch fires are well-documented and police Capt. Jeff Murphy says stricter regulations on bulk trash is the right move.

"I think this well help. I don't think it will totally eliminate the problem. This is just one tool that we're trying to use," he said.

Jarvis thinks it will only make things more difficult for students and isn't sure it'll stop the couches from burning.

"The instances I have heard of it happening, it wasn't necessarily that it was sitting out there," said Jarvis. "Kids brought their own couches to burn them."

The new rules go into effect, Wednesday.


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