Proposal would fine “unruly’ partying

Student government members said they will prepare for the Dec. 14 ordinance hearing by speaking with students.

JP Leider

Members of student government now have more time to discuss and decide how to act on a proposed Minneapolis ordinance that would crack down on party houses and noisy or “unruly” assemblies.

The updated ordinance, written by Minneapolis 2nd Ward City Council member Paul Zerby, who represents the Minneapolis campus and surrounding area, would allow police to post a notice on properties charged with holding “unruly” assemblies and fine participants $150.

The ordinance will be considered at a Dec. 14 Public Safety & Regulatory Services Committee meeting.

Zerby said he wants the ordinance to be a more effective tool to deal with the “kind of chronic sore spots in the neighborhoods where there are excessively noisy, unruly gatherings ” where you get a lot of binge drinking and public urination, that sort of thing.”

Political science senior Christina Baldwin attended the Nov. 23 hearing in which council members decided to table the issue. She said only a couple of people present were in favor of the proposed ordinance.

Baldwin, the Minnesota Student Association’s Legislative Affairs committee chairwoman, said a majority of landlords opposed the ordinance, but University student relations supported it.

MSA representatives spoke against some details of the ordinance at the hearing.

The ordinance calls for the posted notice about noisy or “unruly” gatherings to remain on the premises for 18 months.

Baldwin said that because most students’ leases are 12 months, it doesn’t make sense for the people who move in to bear the burden of the previous tenant.

In addition, fines shouldn’t be the only way to give back to the community, rather community service or another kind of restorative justice should be considered, she said.

The ordinance allows police to fine the landlord of the offending property $200 plus “documented special security costs” for each repeat offense.

The special security costs would go to repay emergency services for costs associated with the gathering, Zerby said.

“These calls for these unruly gatherings drain a lot of time and resources from the city, and frankly, the University police,” he said. “(Fines) would help us to maintain, in some small way, our very stretched resources.”

Amy Thornton, Graduate and Professional Student Assembly vice president for public affairs, said she’s concerned fining the landlord could look like the City Council is delegating responsibility and could create more tension in already stressful landlord/tenant relationships.

“My gut instinct is that (the ordinance) is not good, but it could be good to get the landlords involved in cracking down on party houses,” she said.

GAPSA is preparing for the Dec. 14 committee hearing by meeting with neighborhood representatives, Thornton said.

MSA President Emily Serafy Cox, who didn’t attend the Nov. 23 hearing, said she is irritated MSA has such a short time to deal with the ordinance.

“Nobody consulted us, asked our opinions, so that was a little frustrating ” since it’s obviously geared directly toward students,” she said.

Zerby contended the ordinance wasn’t targeting students.

“I really hope this doesn’t get pitched as or seen as anti-student,” he said. “It’s anti-binge drinking and public defecation, all of those things. I do not believe it’s anti-student ” but I guess it gets pitched however it gets pitched.”

Serafy Cox said that while the ordinance isn’t explicitly an anti-student ordinance, it is geared toward “correcting” behaviors that people believe students engage in.

“MSA and most students on this campus are not in favor of letting students have crazy parties,” she said. “Everybody agrees that issue needs to be solved, it’s just how you address that. The proposed ordinance I don’t think is the best way to address (the issue).”

Ward 2 resident and University student Chris Green questioned priorities in light of recent campus events.

“I think they should be worrying about other stuff than parties, like robberies,” he said.

Green said the ordinance probably does target renting students.

“I don’t think a lot of the old couples are having wily parties, so I’d assume it’s aimed at college students,” he said.

Sophomore business student Brandon Penney, who also lives in the neighborhood, drew similar conclusions.

“The neighborhoods are comprised mostly of students, and they will have their get-togethers,” he said.

The fines and possible landlord tension might deter Penney and his roommates from having parties, he said.

Serafy Cox said she will use the time before the Dec. 14 committee meeting to speak with student governments in Tucson, Ariz., and Santa Cruz, Calif. ” communities with ordinances that form the base of Zerby’s proposal.

Aidan Anderson contributed to this report.