Ordinance may require fences around all pools

Published 7:20 am Friday, June 25, 2010

Debbie and Stan Iverson already have a fence around their above-ground pool, but the city of Austin is looking at tweaking a law to make sure all types of pools are fenced in.

The city ordinance being looked at currently requires fences of at least six-feet around permanent pools that are at least 18-inches deep.

However, it’s the word “permanent” that’s in question, as the current law seemingly excludes large, inflatable, “portable” pools — which are becoming more popular but can be just as dangerous to wandering children as standard pools if not enclosed.

The Iversons don’t consider their pool portable, since the above-ground structure is outside year-round. The pool is three-and-a-half feet deep, and Stan Iverson said he wouldn’t think of not having it fenced off.

“We’ve had a fence around it since Day 1,” he said.

However, there are some pools around Austin that are similar in size to the Iversons’ but not enclosed, leading City Council and the local planning and zoning department to look at enacting a more comprehensive ordinance.

Debbie Iverson said she’d support a law that covers larger, inflatable pools.

“Yes, they should have a fence,” she said. “I think (the city) needs to do something.”

Dan Schreiber, who owns Midnight Sun Pools n’ Spas stores in Mankato and Austin, said he too supports fencing off all types of larger, deeper pools.

“I think they should all have a fence,” Schreiber said. “Safety is a big issue.”

When working with customers, Schreiber said he discusses fencing, often telling people to check with their home insurance companies on what they require. The pool and spa salesman said he also occasionally sells fencing to people getting new pools.

Schreiber said above-ground pools, including the more permanent models he sells and the inflatable types found at chain retailers, are becoming more popular.

“They’re definitely more popular than in-ground (pools),” he said, adding that it’s largely because they cost less.

And if more residents purchase portable pools, a revised ordinance will be all the more necessary. The change could become law as soon as July 19, which is when city zoning and planning director Craig Hoium hopes to have a final draft ready for council approval.