Como zero-tolerance policy pays off, some residents say

Robyn Repya

The Como neighborhood’s zero-tolerance policy, which aims to put a stop to noisy parties, is apparently paying off, some Como residents said.

Members of the Southeast Como Improvement Association say they are pleased with the drop in the number of parties, or at least the drop in noise, and want to continue improving neighborhood communication in the future.

Zach Nelson, a civil engineering junior, also said the neighborhood has changed since the policy was implemented in early October.

“The parties have been getting less rowdy,” he said.

Nelson also said University involvement is key to improving community relations in the future.

He said he felt violated at first by the community action taken to curtail parties.

But after talking to some concerned residents, he’s discovered that only large, disruptive parties are being targeted.

“They just want people to be more respectful of their neighbors,” Nelson said.

SECIA used some of its community money to pay for “buy-back” police, hired in addition to the current neighborhood patrol. The officers were hired to specifically target noisy parties by adopting a zero-tolerance policy.

The policy came as a response to community complaints during September. Many residents said the neighborhood was becoming unbearable on the weekends.

In early October, Como resident Miriam Must said she was finding bottles strewn in her yard every morning after a nearby party.

“I don’t have much patience for it anymore to tell you the truth,” Must said in October.

She said she became especially impatient when she came home one Friday night in late September to find a group of male partygoers urinating on her lawn.

“It’s really not tolerable,” she said.

Although the zero-tolerance policy is firmly in place, not everyone in the community likes the effects on the area’s nightlife.

David Youngblood, a third-year law student and resident of Gamma Eta Gamma – a fraternity for law students – said despite his house checking IDs when serving alcohol and keeping the music low, police have still broken up gatherings.

“For no real reason they said the party was closed,” he said.

Youngblood said police threatened to write tickets to students who wouldn’t leave a low-key gathering.

Como resident Katie Fitzsimmons, a sociology sophomore, also had a party broken up recently. She said she feels her neighbors are taking the new policy to an extreme level.

“They’re picking on every little thing we do,” she said.

She also said the expectations of those in the Como neighborhood are unrealistic.

“If you don’t want to live in an area where there are college students, then move,” she said.

Following the implementation of the zero-tolerance policy, SECIA formed the Safety and Livability Committee, made up of concerned residents and a few student representatives, including Nelson.

He said community activism, which the committee promotes, will help to improve neighborhood relations.

“I think it will bring together the community,” he said.

SECIA President Jeff Haberer said the committee has a two-pronged approach.

He said its goals are to develop a closer relationship with the University regarding students living off campus and to focus on issues such as adequate student housing.

Haberer said the committee also will urge police to continue enforcing the zero-tolerance policy.

He said the policy has really helped in the past month and a half.

“The reports of complaints from neighbors has been down,” he said.