|RP gets tough on loud parties
Unruly revelers face heavier fines, more stringent penalties
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.
RP Police need to deal with REAL crime, including a rash of car break-ins and residential burglaries. We don?t hear about those but let?s get everyone afraid of a few college kids.
This is a great public relations strategy by RP Police by deflecting the reals issues going in RP and focusing on these college kids. I will bet money this comes up in November, when the sales tax extension is on the ballot. RP Police need more money to fight all the college crime let?s continue to raise taxes. If I win the next Power Ball lottery, I will build a frat row across from SSU in Penngrove city limits so none of these students will disrupt RP and Penngrove will get all my tax revenue. You sure like all the revenue these students bring to RP but you can?t handle what comes with living in a college town.
I am sure if an attorney looked into this hearing, RP City Counsel did not follow procedural protocol and could probably get this overturned. Funny how it was characterized as an ?emergency hearing? a week before SSU starts. I guess they didn?t want SSU students showing up to challenge it. Hopefully, an attorney will challenge the legality of this.
I have worse problems now with my bratty neighbors that let their spoiled daughter and son scream bloody murder all afternoon. Sometimes, I don't know if they are being beaten and I should call Child Protective Services. Technically, this same regulation should be used to protect me against them, but when I called RP Police to report a loud party and explained the circumstances, I was told no one would come out since it wasn't a college or teenager party.
This is just another excuse for RP Police to brutalize and harass college kids. Instead of dealing with real crime or educating the public the rash of car and house burglaries, they are spending time on this. Yet, the city council won't approve a frat row, which would solve most of the problems and complaints. Sonoma State and these college kids bring significant revenue to RP so I would be careful about complaining too much about them. Without SSU, RP would be bankrupt by now.
RP Police will send 4 cop cars to a complaint for a college party but when a neighbor called to report a prowler after a rash of burglaries in the neighborhood, they said they would send a patrol car, but never did. I guess it was busy night for parties.
I expect that this is going to be used to justify getting the bill passed to keep sales tax increase beyond 2015.
Mismanaged city and police and they wonder why RP has degenerated to one of the worst placed to live in Sonoma County, with the worst public K-12 schools.