Morgantown, West Virginia is synonymous with couch burning. It’s the home of West Virginia University, and when they win an important sports contest, lose an important sports contest, or if the U.S. military kills Osama Bin Laden, people take to the streets to burn couches. Targeting what they called a “typical offender”—”a white male, 18 to 22 years old and usually intoxicated”—four years ago the city made couch burning a felony.
But the threat of one to three years in jail apparently wasn’t enough to deter offenders, so the Morgantown city council is back with a new law. Yesterday they passed a ban on outdoor upholstered furniture, operating under the theory that fewer couches will be burned if they’re not readily accessible on porches and in yards. Via West Virginia Public Broadcasting:
[Morgantown City Manager Jeff] Mikorski said the city’s previous attempt to tie a ban on outdoor upholstered furniture to its health code was struck down by a judge. The new law amends the city’s property maintenance laws.
Mikorski said violators will receive a written warning before a citation is issued. The penalty is a fine of up to $500 dollars.
Mikorski also claimed that, in the past 10 years, there have been 3,000 street fires in Morgantown. That seems insane even for Morgantown, but assuming it’s true, it makes clear why the city council has spent so much energy to stop the practice.