Most of the Oklahoma City Council seems far from enthusiastic about a proposed new city ordinance that would restrict what downtown residents could keep on their balconies.
Ward 6 Councilwoman Meg Salyer, who lives in and represents the area in and around downtown, proposed the ordinance, which would only allow weather-resistant items designed for outdoor use to be kept on parts of downtown balconies that can be seen from a public street.
“Affectionately, this has been known as the Barcalounger ordinance in an attempt to prevent people from putting sofas ... on their balconies,” Salyer said.
The request for the rules came from residents of the historic Heritage Hills neighborhood, which sits near an apartment complex currently under construction, Salyer said. But about half of her city council colleagues expressed reservations about the idea.
“I think this is maybe an unfortunate extension of government interference into a private matter,” Councilman Pat Ryan said. “I feel very strongly this ought to be an issue between the apartment owners and his tenants.”
Ryan was joined by Councilmen Larry McAtee, David Greenwell and Skip Kelly in questioning whether the proposed ordinance is too much of an intrusion into private life.
“I do think we are getting into areas that may create trouble,” Greenwell said.
Councilman Ed Shadid pointed out that there are similar ordinances that prevent people from putting couches on porches in some neighborhoods. The Paseo District is an example of a neighborhood where that rule applies, said Bob Tener, director of the city's Development Services Department.
The lean, two-page ordinance also only affects items that can be seen “from a public street,” which would mean some items visible to some neighbors, but not on the street, would be in violation of the spirit of the ordinance but not illegal, Councilman Gary Marrs said.
No one other than council members spoke for or against the proposed ordinance at a public hearing last week, but the council may hear comments a final time before its scheduled vote May 29.