“Chapman Grow? Neighbors say no,” read the shirts of attendees at Orange’s city council meeting on Oct. 13, while they discussed plans to control Chapman’s growth.
Mike Alvarez, councilman and local real estate agent, believes that the increasing number of students living off campus is a problem, and he aims to create better communication between Chapman and the city.
“I think we have to get the property owners and the university together to create some sort of partnership,” Alvarez told The Panther. “I think we have to basically start collecting information because we don’t know where the students are and we don’t know how much the university knows.”
In this partnership, if an Orange resident chooses to rent to a Chapman student, the property owner would register that with the university. Alvarez said that this would allow Chapman to know both where students are living and the contact information for the property owners.
“That is important for me, because if there is an issue (with noise complaints) with a particular address, it would be easy for the university to take the step and contact the property owner and say, ‘You know this is happening on your property. Can you do something about it before we have to do something about it?’” Alvarez said.
He explained that it would help both the city of Orange and Chapman.
“Let’s say there is a party at a house,” Alvarez said. “The university will know who lives there because they’ve been registered there. But if you look at the other side of it, if there is a neighbor that doesn’t like them and turns them in, the university also has the information of the property owner.”
Many residents and Alvarez see “overcrowding” as an issue in single-family homes.
Residents gave testimonies at this meeting, raising issues of excessive parking, public nuisances and other unlawful activities.
Susan Stoffel, an Orange resident living on South Pine Street, said that she often sees Orange police officers being harassed by Chapman students who attend parties.
“On our property alone, we have had fist fights on our lawn, urination in our bushes, intoxicated guests come into our door and vomit in our drive,” she said at the meeting.
Other residents spoke up at the meeting, citing similar experiences and problems.
Alvarez is advocating for the council and the city to start creating a comprehensive plan to address these issues.
Stoffel said there aren’t always problems with Chapman students.
“The first thing is, approximately 365 days of the year, they are good kids and good neighbors,” Stoffel explained to the city council. “It’s just those nights when they throw these massive parties … I personally have mitigated fights, offered rides to students in need, provided wet paper towels to sick kids, enforced encroachment issues and seen to the safety of others by clearing our streets. I worry that we will have alcohol-related rapes, death or property damage as a result from one of these events.”
Stoffel suggesting having a task force of officers with civilian citation authority to respond to complaints during time periods when the larger parties happen, including fraternity pledge week, homecoming and the week after finals.
“Maybe this will ease the flow off our police department,” Stoffel said.
Alvarez claims that he has seen some houses require party-goers pay for alcohol before entering parties. On a ride along with the Orange police Aug. 28, he witnessed and filmed a party on Shaffer Street, where he said students admitted to him that they had paid to get into the party.
“We do not know who is charging,” Alvarez said. “So I want to be fair to say that we don’t know if it’s students. We could see from all of the students coming out that none of them were holding alcohol but there was plenty of it in the backyard. You can kind of deduct from that that somebody is charging for all that alcohol, or they are charging to get into the backyard.”
Alvarez said that the students would not say how much the party’s hosts charged them.