City Council seeking community input regarding recreational use of roofs ban
The East Lansing City Council will likely be holding a public hearing on August 4 regarding the potential ordinance that would ban the recreational use of roofs in the city. The council will have to approve the public hearing at its July 7 meeting before moving forward.
The ordinance, which was initially introduced at the June 23 work session, came about because of safety concerns, City Manager George Lahanas said.
“Being up on a high roof is potentially dangerous,” Lahanas said. "You don’t think that you will be the one to fall, but people do fall off roofs."
Johnny Mullen, a media and information junior opposed to the ordinance, said any danger of using roofs for hanging out and enjoying the view is mitigated by people being responsible.
“I understand the safety precautions and why they want to implement this rule," Mullen said. "Being that we are now 18, 19 and 20-plus-years-old, we are adults and the decisions we make are our own responsibilities."
Economics senior Alec Winter said he also understood the safety concerns of the city, but agreed with Mullen in that he was against the ordinance.
“It’s like having parents constantly over watching you,” Winter said of the ordinance. "It just seems a little ridiculous, kind of big-brotherish, and I find it unacceptable."
Three other MSU students interviewed were also against the ordinance for similar reasons.
Safety concerns came to life twice in the past year for city officials.
The first incident occurred in September when police responded to a 25-year-old falling off a roof at 319 Grove Street, East Lansing interim police chief Jeff Murphy said. The individual fell off the roof, onto a car, bounced off the car and landed on the cement driveway with arm and possible neck or back injuries.
The second incident occurred in November when a 21-year-old male fell from a three-story roof face first, Murphy said. The individual sustained several broken bones in his face and a broken shoulder.
Lahanas and Murphy both acknowledged that two incidents over the past year shouldn’t be too much of cause for concern, but said recreational activities on roofs are becoming more popular, which could lead to an increase in injuries.
In addition, Lahanas and Murphy cited an incident occurring in San Luis Obispo, Calif., home of California Polytechnic San Luis Obispo, in which a garage roof collapsed during a party injuring nine students.
Although nothing like this has occurred in East Lansing, the goal of the ordinance is to prevent it from happening, Murphy said.
“We would rather proactively stop it," Murphy. "It’s just responsible for us when we see these things in the news to think about what happens in East Lansing and consider what could happen here. We are trying to put an end to (recreational use of roofs) before something tragic happens."
If the city council approves the ordinance, they will have to decide if noncompliance with the roof ordinance will call for a civil infraction or misdemeanor. A civil infraction would give police the power to ask students to come down from roofs or write a ticket, while a misdemeanor would give police the additional power to make arrests.
Lahanas said the hope is students will be cooperative and come down from roofs when asked so that tickets wouldn’t have to be issued and arrests wouldn’t have to be made if the ordinance is approved.