Faribault pushes to end scourge of air conditioners

Faribault apparently has had it with ugly window air conditioning units.

The Faribault Daily News reports the City Council yesterday took aim again at AC units installed in apartments in the city’s downtown. In 2014, it declined to ban them. This time, the heat is on. The city staff is giving the Council the option of banning air conditioners.

In the discussion, Councilor Steve Underdahl explained the complexity of putting restrictions on these units.

“We have a situation where we have tenants living in units in downtown,” he began. “A window AC goes for $200 to $300. It’s an affordable way to do it. If we ban those and fans in the window, we are putting them in a predicament.”

He also said that if they make these AC units the landlord’s responsibility, the cost of internal cooling or HVAC systems range from $6,000 to $8,000, according to Underdahl’s estimates.

Councilor Kay Duchene recalled that this issue was first addressed by the council in 2014 because of the ways the systems were installed, sometimes being propped up by pillows or other household items.

Councilor Joan Van Dyke echoed her concerns over the safety of the units. Councilor Janna Viscomi explained that proper installation should be a focus of the policy as well.

In addition, Viscomi voiced concerns about the time needed to implement policies regarding AC units, saying, “We have to allow some time to accomplish that.”

The Council also considered a new ordinance requiring the AC units be taken out of windows in the winter. But in the end, the Council only instructed the city staff to look at ways to ban the units in the long term, while developing short-term policies requiring professionals to install them.

  • MrE85

    Seems like an odd thing for the city to be concerned about.

    • Gary F

      If they are a part time council, then should go home instead of finding stuff like this, if full time, I hope all the crime is gone and potholes filled.

      • BJ

        I think there are only 3-4 cities that have full time city council in Minnesota.

        • crystals

          This led me to Google, because I got curious and knew Minneapolis was a full-time council but St. Paul is considered part-time. I couldn’t easily figure it out – do you know which other ones might be full time?

          • BJ

            I thought St Paul was, Duluth is the other I thought was. Bloomington might be.

            That’s it.

            What’s St Paul pay? Mpls is close to 100k.

          • crystals

            It’s weird how difficult this is to find.

          • BJ

            I used to know because I worked campaigns. All, Minnesota, county commissioners are – if I recall correctly – and that’s a good paying gig by the way.

  • Gary F

    So much for making “affordable housing” more affordable.

    It a unit is unsafe, then its the landlord’s responsibility and liability.Always was, always will be.
    Taking them out every fall is easier said than done seeing so many require special work to make the fit properly.
    Having a law mandating licensed HVAC person to install or maintain, really?

    Make a law stating that if from the OUTSIDE of the apartment if the AC window shaker looks dangerous, the landlord can be sited just like any other infraction.

    The city council might not have enough to do or they are really hell bent on making affordable housing less affordable.

    • jon

      Great time to be a professional window air conditioner installer in Faribault though…
      A little bit of lobbying to show that they are unsafe if installed improperly, and a little more Lobbying to show the energy saved by having them removed in the winter time… Presto you’ve got business every spring and fall for the rest of your life (or until the city gets wise to the scam.)

    • Mike

      Looking at this from a Minneapolis perspective, I’d say politicians pay a lot of lip service to affordable housing, but gentrification is their bread and butter. Always humorous to see the mashup.

  • Tyler

    I can see one valid reason for creating some kind of ordinance – making sure they don’t fall out onto the street. Someone could be easily killed.

  • Micah

    The affordable housing downtown is home to many members of the Somali community. Though I’m sure this has nothing to do with the attention being given to this pressing “issue”. *cough* discriminatory law *cough*

  • Rex Schultrich

    This sounds like a solution in search of a problem. I gotta think that it was proposed by an enterprising HVAC dealer/contractor.

  • lobd

    And, how many stories about air conditioners falling out of windows have we all read? Yeah, I can’t think of any.