New fines for parties

Hosts, attendees and landlords now can be fined as much as $2,000 for unruly parties in Minneapolis.

JP Leider

The Minneapolis City Council enacted an ordinance Friday that could cost students more than the $5 they paid for a keg cup.

The change, originally proposed by former City Council member Paul Zerby, allows for a sliding scale of fines, in which people participating in, hosting or visiting a noisy or “unruly” party could be fined $150.

A tenant chronically hosting parties could face fines that double for each additional infraction, with a $2,000 limit.

The ordinance also brings landlords, property owners or rental license owners into the mix by imposing a $200 fine ” which doubles for each additional infraction ” should police or other emergency services be called.

Student Legal Service Attorney Bill Dane said the ordinance change could prove positive for students.

“(The ordinance) doesn’t necessarily change things from the standpoint of the student because they’ve always been subject to fines if they’ve had an unruly party,” he said. “The main positive impact is that instead of having to put students through a criminal process, the officer on the scene will have the option of issuing a civil citation.”

Dane said the difference between a criminal and civil citation might be felt most by students when they apply for jobs.

Several years down the road, if students are asked they’ve been convicted of a crime, the student who paid a civil citation can answer no ” which would not be true for students who paid a criminal citation, Dane said.

The ordinance allows both landlords and tenants to contest citations.

Kendre Turonie, a student and community relations coordinator, said the University has backed the ordinance change since it was introduced, and she hopes the police will enforce it appropriately.

She said she doesn’t think it will change the average student’s daily life.

“It’s just another ordinance that the police can use if there’s a problem property,” she said.

The ordinance change, Turonie said, addresses the landlord much more directly than other procedures.

“By bringing the landlord into the equation, it requires the landlord take a more active stance in dealing with the behavior of their tenants,” she said.

Steven Schachtman, president of Steven-Scott Management, which owns several properties near the Minneapolis campus, said there had already been procedures in place that held landlords accountable for a tenant’s conduct.

Schachtman said he supports the form of the ordinance and hopes it will be effective, but wonders how the ordinance will “control the masses.”

“There are good tenants and bad tenants; good landlords and bad landlords,” he said. “No government ordinance is going to change the mentality of somebody that wants to continue to practice irresponsible business ethics.”

Katie White, Facilities and Housing chairwoman for the Minnesota Student Association, said she is pleased with an accompanying directive to the ordinance that calls for a review of its effectiveness in March 2007.

“The review process is a good step for evaluating how the community and tenants get along,” she said. “Oftentimes through government in general, proposed solutions get passed and don’t work. As a result, there’s a law in the books that’s not applicable or effective.”

Most laws should have a similar review process, she said.

White said that while it is too soon to tell what her committee’s role will be in the repercussions of the ordinance change, students can come to MSA with any questions about citations.

Student Legal Service also offers advice to students about civil and criminal citations.