While students pick out costumes and put up decorations, the city of San Luis Obispo is also preparing for Halloween.
Starting at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 28 and ending at 7 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 1 the city will be a designated safety enhancement zone with increased police patrols and doubled fines.
“We want everyone to have a fun and safe Halloween just like every year,” San Luis Obispo Public Communications Manager Whitney Szentesi said. “That’s why the safety enhancement zone exists.”
During this time, fines will be doubled for municipal code violations such as excessive noise, unruly gathering, social host, public urination and open containers. There will also be additional police officers on patrol throughout the weekend.
“The two riots and the roof collapse SLO has experienced in the last 20 plus years were the motivators behind the decision to adopt the ordinance,” Neighborhood Outreach Manager Christine Wallace said.
Regularly, noise citations are applicable if a resident is making noise that can be heard 50 feet from the property line between 10 p.m.-7 a.m. or if noise can be heard from outside the property line from 10 p.m.-7 a.m.
These fines would usually cost $350 for first offenses, $700 for repeat offenses and $1,000 for subsequent citations. Additionally, if officers are required to return to a residence after a citation, the residents responsible will be required to pay for the cost of the officers’ response time as well as the original fine.
“Sometimes, safety is achieved with having consequences, like administrative fines, that influence residents to make choices that don’t threaten the safety of themselves or others,” Wallace said.
Police officers are not required to issue a warning before giving citations. Residents are able to register their gathering or party through the city’s party registration form on the city’s website. If a party is registered, the hosts will receive a warning call before a citation is issued.
“We’ve found that since 2017 when party registration was introduced, residents who register parties have very well executed events that rarely draw complaints,” Wallace said.
Unruly gatherings are defined as a gathering that involves 20 or more people and “involves unlawful conduct” that creates a “substantial disturbance” in a “significant segment of a neighborhood,” according to the city of San Luis Obispo.
This does not mean that gatherings with 20 or more individuals are prohibited. It is only an issue if the gathering results in unlawful behavior.
Unlawful conduct includes disturbances such as excessive noise, public drunkenness, serving alcohol to minors and public urination. The initial fine for an unruly gathering is $700 for each host of the gathering.
The San Luis Obispo Police Department will also notify the property owner. While there is no initial fine for the property owner, they can be fined up to $500 if they allow unruly gatherings to take place in the future.
If police respond to a residence for an unruly gathering that also violates the city’s noise ordinance at the same time, the residents will not receive a citation for both. Although, if police respond to both violations at separate times during the night the hosts can receive citations for each violation.
The city also distributed 3,800 reflective trick-or-treat bags to San Luis Obispo schools in collaboration with the Cal Poly Institute of Transportation Engineers Club. The reflective bags are intended to reduce traffic-related injuries.
In a news release published Monday, the city outlined 10 safety tips for community members participating in Halloween festivities. These are tips such as driving carefully, reporting dangerous drivers and wearing bright costumes.