by Georgia Perry on Sep 19, 2012
This fall, several hundred UCSC students will move into residences in Santa Cruz, alongside professionals, families, and even babies. In light of this sometimes awkward coming together, it is important to note that there are certain concepts that exist in college dorms that don’t exist in the rest of the world: two people sharing a twin bed; fires caused by microwave popcorn accidents; and wearing flip-flops in the shower.
The reverse is also true. I speak, of course, of “quiet hours.” In dorms these are just something the R.A. half-heartedly mumbles before soliciting participation in the 24-hour “Guitar Hero” contest. In real life, however, quiet hours are an actual period of time where it is required that we all be quiet, by order of the almighty Santa Cruz Municipal Code 9.36.010.
Santa Cruz is a complicated rental market, and many people still don’t realize that the SCPD now keeps a list of “Loud/Unruly Addresses” that can be viewed on the police department’s website. A house can land on the list by throwing a party an officer deems disruptive to the neighborhood, says SCPD lieutenant and official “party advisor” Colleen McMahon. The designation lasts for a full year, and stays with the house, not the residents, so unfortunately it is relatively common for the rowdy renters to move out, leaving new tenants to suffer the consequences.
Linda Burroughs, owner of Linda Burroughs Real Estate, recently sold a West Side house that landed on the loud/unruly list last fall. Her former renters were told they would be evicted if it happened again, as many adults and families live in the neighborhood. They cleaned up their act, but Burroughs was relieved that a family of “quiet people” bought the house this year.
“Beer pong at 4am is not respectful of anyone,” she says flatly, adding it is the result of partiers who “are obliterated and don’t know what’s going on around them.”
Landlords are not obligated to tell tenants if the house is flagged before anyone signs a lease, says McMahon, so check the list to make sure. Even if your house is not one of the 72 on the list, look online to see if there are any in your neighborhood. If there are, your block may be more likely to get police attention on weekend nights.
A great way to scope our your neighborhood’s reputation and get a read on your neighbors is to head to a block party (or throw one yourself). Santa Cruz Neighbors sponsors a day of citywide block parties on Sept. 30th. Check their website to see if one is happening in your area. That will make it much easier to…
Know Your Neighbors
It’s usually neighbors who call the police on loud parties, says Amanda Bateman of UCSC Student Judicial Affairs. Give neighbors notice before throwing a party and make sure they have your number. Ask them to call you before calling the police if they become uncomfortable. Not only does it establish you as a responsible and respectful neighbor, it might save you several hundred dollars in fines.
Laurel St. resident and recent UCSC grad David Benterou and his housemates threw a party last Halloween for which they got clearance from neighbors, organized a “team” of a half dozen sober people to manage drunk shenanigans, and kept the party to a reasonable size of about 60 guests at their double-lot home.
“There’s a stereotype of parties,” says Benterou, who likes to host music shows at his home as an alternative to local venues with cover charges, “People think all parties are frat students going wild and breaking things and not caring about their neighbors at all. But not every party is going to be a rager.”
Despite playing by all the rules, Benterou’s party still landed his house on the Loud/Unruly House list, but it wasn’t the neighbors that called to complain. An officer happened to be in the area responding to a call at a nearby house, heard Benterou’s party from the street, and busted it, too. Which brings us to…
The SCPD ups their enforcement and increases what they call “party patrols” during the first six weeks of school, says Paul Willis, an alcohol and drug educator with the UCSC Student Health Center.
The first offense for a loud/unruly gathering is a formal warning, with the address being added to the list, and an optional citation. The fine is $500 for a second offense within a 12-month period, and $1000 for a third, which will also get you a misdemeanor. Read this carefully: You do not want a misdemeanor.
Base fines are issued in addition to any extra charges you could incur if a cop needs to spend extra time with you, issue breathalyzers, or replace any equipment you break. Be compliant, respectful, and your fine is likely to be lower. After all, you’ve already paid enough: It’s actually students’ tuition that’s paying for the increased police presence these first six weekends of school. UCSC Campus Provost Alison Galloway has approved the expenditure of $25,000 each year to fund SCPD’s increased Friday and Saturday night enforcement.
Citywide quiet hours are from 10pm to 8am. Respect this by moving your party inside at 10pm. Clean up any trash peppering your yard, too—and make sure no renegade party debris wound up in neighbors’ yards.
In addition, UCSC Student Health Outreach and Promotion (SHOP) encourages party hosts to pre-set the volume of music, which can get cranked up to non-quiet-hours levels throughout the course of a party resulting in noise violations, loud/unruly gathering citations, and idiots screeching along to “Call Me Maybe.” You don’t need that drama.
For that matter, if anyone is singing along to “Call Me Maybe” in earnest, chances are this person is under age. Track the age of guests, and make sure you’re not serving alcohol to any youngsters—you can be liable.