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The San Luis Obispo City Council unanimously approved a permanent Voluntary Party Registration program Tuesday, Oct. 16. The program, which was piloted last year, allows students and residents to register parties with the San Luis Obispo Police Department (SLOPD) to avoid party-related noise fines.

How it works

Students can register scheduled parties with SLOPD to receive one courtesy dispatch call. If a resident calls the police with a noise complaint for a registered party, police will call the host and allow 20 minutes for the noise to settle down before any fine is given. The program is designed to help students avoid fines for noise complaints, which start at $350.  

To register a party, hosts must be 18 years-old or older, provide photo ID and fill out an application in-person at SLOPD at least one week prior to the scheduled party. Hosts with noise violations on record within the nine months prior to the application will not be accepted.

The Council’s decision

During the pilot program, which began in May 2017, 99 hosts filled out party registrations. Of the 76 parties approved, there were eight warning calls and only one noise citation.

“We are happy to see how this has been a helpful way to let community members still have parties that are fun, while also communicating with the city and police department to reduce risks,” City Council Member Dan Rivoire said.

Rivoire said he is particularly excited about an online application option that will be available soon. This will make it easier for more students to use the program.

Vice Mayor Carlyn Christianson confirmed every city council member is supportive of the program.

“There have been fewer party complaints and fewer students getting in trouble,” Christianson said. “Students are happy, neighbors are happy and the police department is happy. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

Student reactions

Several students were onboard with the idea.

“It’s good because it gives students a fair warning before punishing them, while also letting the city take care of business,” business administration sophomore Wayne Myat said. “When students are given a simple procedure to follow for complaints, it will work out better for everyone.”

Aerospace engineering freshman Sebastian Barragan said the program may take a while to get used to, but once students adjust, it will help students’ relationships with the community.

“I think it will inspire communication on both sides. Students might be hesitant to register parties at first though, because people are distrusting of authority in general,” Barragan said. “But I think the program will have far-reaching effects. Once it is popular, students will be more trusting in the future after having a positive experience with the police.”

“Students might be hesitant to register parties at first though, because people are distrusting of authority in general”

Business administration freshman Megan Wong said although she supports the program, she sees that potential problems may arise.

 “It’s not fair to pay so much for noise complaints, so this will help. The only issue I see is people might take advantage of it and think, ‘Oh, if we do this, we won’t get any noise complaints and we don’t have to pay anymore,’ so parties could get even rowdier, but I’m still in favor of it,” Wong said.

Recreation, parks and tourism administration senior Connor Crowe hopes the program’s structure will be altered in a more student-friendly way.

“I feel like students won’t want to go into the police station and let everyone know they are having a party, especially for bigger parties or frats,” Crowe said. “Also registering a week in advance can be tricky, because a lot of parties are spontaneous. If they could make the application through an app or shorten the week in advance notice that would be better.”

Biological sciences junior Hannah Jutson thinks students will want to take advantage of the registration program once it becomes common knowledge.

“I think people will definitely be interested in this program, but I don’t think a lot of students will go out of their way to the police station,” Jutson said. “Students are usually pretty unaware of policies in [San Luis Obispo], but since this is party-related, I’m sure it will catch on soon enough. If it gets too popular, that also might make an interesting situation, because everyone would think they can avoid fines.”

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