RP gets tough on loud parties
Unruly revelers face heavier fines, more stringent penalties
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By Jud Snyder  August 16, 2013 12:00 am

Rohnert Park’s City Council took up the recommendation of Brian Masterson, director of public safety, and approved an emergency ordinance to RP Municipal Code 9.48, toughening the rules about loud and unruly house parties in residential neighborhoods. Mayor Pam Stafford emphasized the ordinance was not specifically aimed at Sonoma State University students but applied to all areas of the city.

But the presence of about 15 SSU students and a faculty adviser, plus Masterson’s statistics showing M Section complaints about loud, unruly parties dominated police calls and pointed the finger at the campus.

The new ordinance states instead of 60 days between loud parties where police are called it’ll now be 120 days. Evidence given from public comment Tuesday night claimed “61st day” parties were held with only a citation handed out. Now, if two unruly parties are held in 120 days, heavier fines and more stringent penalties will be given to home owners who might be hosting a party, SSU celebrants or not.

Speaker after speaker told the three-member council (Joe Callinan and Jake Mackenzie were absent) about drunkenness, public urination, loud music and shouting, profane language, with garbage, cans and bottles littering yards and sidewalks when residents got up in the morning to go to work or drive the kids to school. 

SSU students acknowledged there is a problem every August and September when classes reopen for the Fall semester. There’s also more calls to police in May around graduation time on campus.

Masterson has held two meetings with M Section residents in the past few months. 

“About 60 or 70 people came and talked of their problems, “ he said. “This new ordinance is a possible measure of relief to the affected residents.”

An important part of the problem was mentioned by Councilwoman Gina Belforte, who noted SSU is unique among other college towns. “The college is not ringed by other campus buildings like gymnasiums, laboratories, teaching centers, student housing or athletic facilities.

“It’s right smack in town with a shopping center across the street and homes and city parks on two sides.”  

Whether this lack of a “buffer zone” between city and campus places undue emphasis on loud, unruly parties is an unanswered question.

Belforte told SSU students “You’re in the middle of a working community.”

Stafford added, “You’re right next to people who have children and jobs.”

Councilman Amy Ahanotu made the motion to adopt the emergency ordinance and Belforte seconded it for the 3-0 vote. 

”This ordinance isn’t punishment,” said Ahanotu. “I hope its enforcement will be useful.”

Assistant City Manager Darrin Jenkins filled in Tuesday night for the absent City Manager Gabe Gonzalez.

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