Noise complaint consequences get reinforced

Chapman’s Neighborhood Advisory Committee had a meeting on Jan. 6, where it discussed how the consequences of noise complaints could be enforced.

In the fall of 2015, Jerry Price, vice chancellor for student affairs and dean of students, announced a fine for students with multiple noise complaints. Price told Colleen Wood, the director of student conduct, that he anticipated the fines would range between $400 and $800, however, the conduct officer would have discretion in the range depending on the scope of the party.

Price said that Public Safety and Chief Robert H. Gustafson of the Orange Police Department  have noted that the number of complaints is down, but has not decreased enough.

“I think the neighbors feel that the problem is still far from solved, and it’s our responsibility to listen to what the neighbors have to say on this,” Price said. “We’re interested in perspectives, but the burden is on us to try and solve the problem. We fill our neighbors in about the fines, and they seem supportive of the initiatives, but I don’t think it’s going to stop at fines.”

Lt. Fred Lopez, public information officer of the Orange Police Department, said that between July 1 and Dec. 31, 2015 there were a total of 150 Chapman University related party calls.

“Out of 150 calls for service, 58 Chapman University students received a First Response Notice (a warning),” Lopez said. “None of those 58 notices resulted in a second response to the same location on the same night.”

Lopez said that there were 81 party calls where no action was taken, due to a heavy call volume that delayed the police’s response.

“By the time we arrived, the parties were over,” Lopez said. “The amount of party calls for the six month period represents 15 percent of the total party calls for the entire city.”

In an attempt to lower the number of complaints, Price said that the university is collecting students’ local addresses, which will allow it to identify repeat offenders.

Price said that there was an incident where the same house received multiple noise complaints, but a different person was cited, so there were no repeat offenders. Now, all students in a residence that gets a noise complaint will be held accountable.

“Since we have more information about who lives in the house, it gives us a lot of potential and headway that we have been struggling to make up until now,” Price said.

Sandy Quinn, a member of the Neighborhood Advisory Committee, said that noise complaints from residents are a legitimate issue for discussion.

“When students, or anybody else, have late night parties, turn up the TV so it’s heard down the block, get drunk on the streets, use bad language, are too loud in the front or backyard when people are sleeping, etc., there will be complaints,” Quinn said.

“Some (people) in the community feel it’s become excessive and feel that fair, appropriate but tough steps must be taken.”

Price said that if there are students who do become repeat offenders, they are likely to be suspended for a semester or two.

“I think it’s reasonable to expect that we’ll see tighter housing ordinances preventing too many living in what is considered a single family residence, that parking will be better regulated, and there will be a more aggressive enforcement of the city’s residential codes, such as parking cars on the lawn, porches full of old furniture, yard trash and other violations,” Quinn said.

Price can’t imagine that students will have positive feelings about the enforcements, but believes that it will help decrease neighborhood complaints.

“I don’t feel positive about it, I feel this is a terrible idea,” Price said. “We live in a very special neighborhood, and there are students whose behaviors in the neighborhood are not compatible with the historic standing of the neighborhood. We’ve just been forced into a corner and more aggressive measures are going to have to be taken to get this message through to make the progress we need to make.”

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