Rules are rules
Many students have decided to stay in East Lansing this summer, whether it’s to take classes or to avoid subleasing their apartment. For those sticking around for the summer, The State News has compiled a list of some of the most common summertime mishaps that can land residents in trouble with law enforcement.
Parking on lawns
When it comes to parking on lawns, just remember not to. A citywide ordinance in East Lansing states people can’t park on any area not approved for a driveway, according to Parking and Code Enforcement (PACE) supervisor Eldon Evans. If someone is found parking in a lawn or yard, a police officer can issue a citation, Evans said.
Being on rooftops
Spending time outside on the roof might sound fun, but if the roof isn’t intended to have people standing on it, it can become dangerous. If someone is on a roof just because he or she can be, it is considered a violation, and a violation can be given by the fire department or the city code department.
Janee Prince, who graduated from MSU this past spring, said she feels as though this is a fair rule.
“At the end of the day, I definitely think it’s reasonable,” Prince said. “It’s not like you’re going to jail; it’s just a citation. I feel like there’s too much that can happen to just say, ‘OK, you can hang out on rooftops.’”
As long as there is no underage drinking, police officers do not have any problems with parties that take place outside, Evans said. However, the problem usually stems from people not cleaning up after that outdoor party.
“It’s the cleanup part after that gets people in trouble,” Evans said. “If they don’t clean up, they can receive a party litter ticket, (which can) consist of paper, bottles and boxes.”
If a lawn is left a mess after a party the night before, police can issue a citation. The party litter ordinance states that officers can issue a ticket without prior warning if the offense is deemed serious and there is a tiered fine system for multiple party litter offenses.
A warning still can be issued for minor offenses. If people take open alcohol off of a porch and onto the yard, police might come and have a conversation with those involved to make sure things are going as they should be. The open alcohol ordinance for East Lansing, Sec. 26-52, prohibits the possession of any alcoholic beverage in an open container or container with a broken seal in any public place or private area open to the public, except a licensed liquor establishment or elsewhere as provided by ordinance.
PACE officers are able to fine $50 for a first offense, $100 for a second offense, $200 for a third offense and $400 for a fourth offense.
Taking furniture outside
As relaxing as it might be to sit outside on a living room couch, city ordinances state that non-outdoor furniture is not allowed outside. Patio furniture that is built to be used outside is allowed, but bringing couches and living room chairs outside is not. A police officer can write a citation for this, Evans said.
When it comes to grilling outside, there are no specific laws regulating what to do.
“(There are) no special rules, just think safety,” Evans said. “You never want to have it close to the house. Give yourself some room.”
There aren’t any situations where a police officer would have to come by, Evans said.
Animals are allowed to be outside as long as they are with their owners. In East Lansing, animals cannot be restrained in the front yard and left alone, Evans said.
“If you were to have a puppy and you decided to tie him up outside, as long as you are outside, then it’s OK,” he said.
If somebody leaves a pet outside alone, they can be written a citation. If enough complaints are received, then the pet can be taken away. Evans said if the police receive a call about an unattended pet, they will drive by and can issue a warning.
Evans said one of them most common offenses police have to deal with in the summer is overgrown grass.
According to city ordinances, grass must be “no longer than an inch less than 6 inches.” If someone violates this, police are able to take a measuring device to the property and assess if the grass is too long. If it fails to be in compliance, police will issue a warning that the grass must be cut within five days.
If the grass still is not cut, a citation will be issued.
According to a city ordinance, no person can ignite, discharge or use consumer fireworks unless it is the day before, the day after or the day of a national holiday. East Lansing Police Department Capt. Jeff Murphy said the only holidays in the summer that this applies to are the Fourth of July, Memorial Day and Labor Day. If someone breaks this rule, he or she will be issued a citation, Murphy said.
According to the ordinance, any firework devices that are designed to produce visible effects by combustion are required to comply with the construction, chemical composition and labeling regulations promulgated by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission. Consumer fireworks don’t include ground and handheld sparkling devices.
According to the City of East Lansing website, block parties generally are prohibited in the city.
This is due to their potential to get out of control, which can result in personal injury and property damage. An ordinance was adopted to prohibit carrying alcohol in open containers in public, meaning that it is illegal to have open alcohol on the streets, on public streets, on public sidewalks or any place open to the general public.
Small neighborhood block parties may be approved if alcohol is not being consumed on the streets or sidewalks. These can be requested by the city council through the City Manager’s Office.