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.