San Luis Obispo police can now issue multiple noise citations to residents, charge violators up to $1,000 in fines and hold property owners responsible for tenants accused of disturbing the peace when the city’s new noise ordinance is enforced this Friday, March 5.
San Luis Obispo Police Chief Deborah Linden proposed five strategies for stricter noise enforcement during a city council meeting Sept. 29; the noise ordinance was unanimously approved by the council Jan. 19 when presented by Police Operations Captain Ian Parkinson, who is also running for San Luis Obispo County Sheriff. The ordinance was adopted Feb. 2.
Parkinson said despite the number of noise complaints dropping from almost 2,800 in 2008 to 2,700 in 2009, city officials hope to see it drop even further.
“I do not expect any citations to go up. However, if people do not comply, then there will be an increase,” Parkinson said.
Under the new ordinance, residents deemed noisy by their neighbors after 10 p.m. will receive one warning and their address will be added to the ‘premises list.’ Residents are eligible only for one warning within a nine-month period before receiving a citation. Parkinson specified that warnings are not required, and if the violation involves significant disturbances or the violator is unruly with SNAP officers, they will face an immediate fine.
A $350 fine will be given for a first offense, a $700 fine for a second violation within a 12-month period, and a $1,000 fine for a third violation within the same year.
Students appear to be the majority of the targets for the fines, business administration junior Becky Foster said. Foster recalled how her friend hosted a dinner party with six guests and received a noise violation. She also added that because many students feel powerless to the new legislation, they are less likely to speak out against the new law.
“I think it is really unfair and they are taking advantage of a huge demographic. It seems more about the money then keeping the peace,” Foster said.
If a tenant receives a violation, a letter will be mailed to the property owner notifying the owner of the charge. The property owner could also be fined if the tenant continues to violate the noise ordinance.
In the past, realty agencies like McNamara Realty have placed a noise clause in their leases that would charge tenants $400 to $450 if they receive a noise violation. With the new legislation, the realty agency plans to continue to enforce the clause, as well as charge tenants for the fee the agency is charged by the city.
The city will allow first-time violators to pay for their fine by doing community service at a rate of $10/hour.
The city is expected to discuss stricter legislation for parties or ‘unruly gatherings’ within the next few months; the legislation may lead to citations for everyone who attends these events.