Resident groups in San Luis Obispo are suggesting a more stringent keg registration process in response to loud noises at night from the student neighborhoods around campus.
The idea was first brought up in September 2015 by groups known as The Neighborhood Wellness/Community Civility Group and Residents for Quality Neighborhoods. The ultimate goal of stricter regulation would be to lower the amount of noise and disturbances caused by drinking city-wide.
City officials are attempting to discuss the issue before summer in order to include the voice of student groups, as well as introduce a party registration program for Fall 2016. The proposed party registration program would allow students to receive a nonbinding warning before getting a ticket if authorities receive complaints about the registered location.
Neighborhood outreach manager Christine Wallace has been conducting citywide research on keg sales.
“We have received excellent feedback from both Cal Poly students and staff,” Wallace said. “Highly important issues that involve students will most likely be decided upon during the academic year.”
The state of California requires kegs to be registered upon purchase, as mandated by the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Existing laws require merchants to identify each keg by placing an identification number on the side of the container that can be traced back to the buyer. Because keg registration is already required by the state, some San Luis Obispo officials doubt that additional keg registration framework would be needed or that more requirements would pass into city law.
The city council has been exploring the idea of additional keg registration, yet council member John Ashbaugh said the statewide laws currently in place are successful enough.
“Because of the laws already in effect, I definitely do not think that the city needs to duplicate what the state already requires,” Ashbaugh said. “I really want the city to be looking at citywide party registration instead, which would make more progress toward some of the problems that I think the groups who suggested keg registration are trying to address.”
San Luis Obispo’s new Police Chief Deanna Cantrell made similar points. According to Cantrell, keg registration is still on the city agenda and is a topic brought up in the city civility report, but has little likelihood of passing into law.
“I am really not sure how the keg registration that is being proposed would look any different than what the city and state already does,” Cantrell said. “I do not think that it’s going to happen or progress, but we are trying to get the issue figured out before spring ends at Cal Poly, before all the students leave for summer.”
Wallace has contacted several student groups about their keg purchasing habits, including greek life, which is already forbidden from purchasing kegs for registered social events.
According to Wallace, the number of kegs purchased at a local BevMo! location has fallen, but information is still being gathered from other vendors. Research is being done to see what groups, if any, are still purchasing a majority of kegs. Students make up approximately 58 percent of the city’s population and it’s likely that some student groups will be seen as major purchasers because of their majority population.
Cantrell also said the best way to address student-oriented issues is to do it during the academic year, while most students are present in San Luis Obispo. The city council passed new unruly gathering ordinances over the summer of 2015 with little to no input from the student body, as a majority of students were out of town.
According to Wallace, keg registration is set to come to the city council meeting on April 19, which student groups are free to attend and voice their opinions.
Many student groups expressed that they felt left out of the democratic process when the new unruly gathering ordinances were passed over the summer. Because of this, a discussion to finalize a citywide party registration program will resume in the fall when a majority of Cal Poly students are in town, according to Cantrell.
Implementing a citywide party registration policy is something that both Ashbaugh and Cantrell are interested in pursuing in the near future.
“A party registration policy would allow for neighbors and the city to anticipate amplified music and a possible extended noise ordinance for the registered address,” Ashbugh said. “But a host would most likely have to prove to the city that they have no objection from some of their immediate neighbors prior to hosting an event.”
According to Cantrell, party registration would take up fewer emergency services and allow for city resources to be spent more efficiently. The Student Neighborhood Assistance Program can issue Disturbance Advisory Cards (DACs), but getting a DAC leads many renters toward fines by their landlords.
Under a party registration program, an actual nonbinding warning would be given to a host if his or her event got too loud. The warning would not go to the landlord or any exterior party if the issue is addressed correctly and in an allotted amount of time.
The registration system, as well as not registering a party, would be optional. However, receiving a noise complaint at an unregistered party would leave the hose in danger of getting a ticket or DAC.
Greek organizations currently have to register their parties with Cal Poly, but it’s unknown whether the city will partner with Cal Poly for those registration documents in the future.
“The whole point of this system is to see that if we come out once to your registered event, will you quiet down?” Cantrell said. “Because the event is registered, we would already know some details about it if a call came in. So a warning would be given to the host on file to fix the issue or shut down the event. The student population invests heavily in the community here and give the city so much talent so I feel like we could all benefit from a partnership like this.”