Minneapolis Police name top University-area party houses

Shira Kantor

No longer exclusive to David Letterman, top 10 lists are cropping up everywhere, including a new one issued by the Minneapolis Police Department.
The MPD recently compiled a list of the top 10 party houses around the University as part of an effort to step up neighborhood security and curb the number of noisy parties.
The list is decided based on neighbor complaints about loud parties and underage drinking.
Nick Pladson, a liberal arts student at the University, resides in one of the 10 cited homes, which are found in the Como, Marcy-Holmes and Prospect Park neighborhoods.
“It kind of sucks, I guess, that we’re labeled like that,” Pladson said. “I figured we were pretty high (on the police’s list), but I didn’t know we were in the top 10.”
Pladson said parties at his Como neighborhood house generally host 30 to 40 people and usually get broken up by the police by about 12:30 a.m.
“We know most of (the people who come),” Pladson said. “Then there’s usually friends of friends.”
Pladson and his roommates have received warnings from police but have never been issued a citation for having a disruptive party.
They have, however, been asked by their landlord, Jim Eischens, to reform their behavior.
“We got a thing in the mail a couple of weeks ago from our landlord saying that we’re going to have to pay 40 bucks a week so that he could hire a security service to monitor our house,” Pladson said.
That house is a split-level home and, Pladson said, the tenants in the lower part are responsible for most of the parties.
After explaining this to Eischens, the amount was reduced, but Pladson and his roommates still pay a weekly fee.
“He kind of made it proportional to how many parties we’ve had compared to how many they’ve had,” Pladson said. “(The fee is) sort of in lieu of a rent increase.”
Barb Boysen, a legal assistant with Student Legal Services at the University, said that in order for a landlord to legally impose such a fee on tenants, an explicit provision must be included in the lease.
She also said several students are beginning to find themselves in situations similar to Pladson’s.
“Tenants are coming up against new and problematic policies that can come back to haunt them,” Boysen said.
But Boysen said she could not make a definitive statement on the legality of the fee without seeing the lease.
Boysen also said houses with several residents are more likely to have large parties.
Thirteen people live in the house Pladson rents from Eischens. Pladson and four other roommates occupy the upper level of the house; another eight people live in the lower level.
Laurie Pesola, Eischens’ office manager, said there is a provision in his leases that allows for Eischens to raise the rent by $125 each month in response to party incidences.
Eischens, who owns and rents out several houses in the area, hired Wolf Protective Service to monitor his property, Pesola said.
Pladson said the security service patrols the area but doesn’t necessarily intrude upon their privacy.
“They don’t stop by unless there’s a reason for them to,” Pladson said. “It’s not like they come in and check on us or anything.”
Also monitoring Pladson and his roommates are police officers from the Community Crime Prevention/Safety for Everyone division of the Minneapolis Police Department.
“What we’re trying to do is focus on the top problem addresses,” Officer Jabra Kowas said.
He added that SAFE officers visit the houses on the top 10 list one night a week, alternating Fridays and Saturdays.
The funding for the extra police patrolling comes from a grant given to the police department from Minnesota Join Together, a group that aims to reduce underage drinking.
The grant money, which will also fund the purchase of a video camera for police to use for surveying parties, is scheduled to last through mid-March.
CCP/SAFE is also working with neighborhood associations around the University concerned with noisy parties and underage drinking.
Kowas said even though they are specifically watching certain houses, the majority of parties that police break up are in response to 911 calls placed by neighbors.
“What they complain about is generally noise, loud music, college students getting drunk and then wandering the neighborhoods carrying alcohol,” Kowas said.
A noisy party, as defined by the Minneapolis code of ordinances, is a gathering of more than one person in a residential area between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. that causes a disturbance.
Boysen said she is concerned by the breadth of the ordinance because many students don’t know their rights.
“Two guys sitting on a porch listening to music are going to be treated the same as 50 people gathered around the back door of the house making lots of noise,” Boysen said.
“The city of Minneapolis is taking a very aggressive approach because of neighborhood groups’ concerns,” she added.
SAFE officers also encourage residents to form neighborhood block clubs and apartment clubs to help alleviate the problem.
Kowas said block clubs are effective because people get to know each other and can solve their own problems.
Homeowner Richard Menkin lives in the Como area and is part of a “very active” block club, which he said is a good way to bring the neighborhood together.
Menkin said he has seen an increase in parties in and around his neighborhood this fall.
“(The partiers) just roam around the neighborhood,” Menkin said. “We’ve had parties where the police get beat up. Alcohol does strange things.”

Shira Kantor covers East Bank communities and welcomes comments at [email protected]