Monday, August 06, 2007

Kids these days

This morning Notre Dame students received an email from student government alerting us to an ordinance up for discussion at the city council meeting August 13. Excerpt from the email:
Here is a quick summary of the ordinance as it is currently written:

Who does it affect? Students who reside in “boarding houses” (houses with more than 2 non-relative residents)

What does it require? Individuals holding special events (ie. parties) where alcohol is served with 25 or more non-resident guests must file an application with the Board of Public Works 10 business days in advance at a fee of $15. This application is then distributed to the SBPD and the area neighborhood association, among others.

What will it cost you?
Violations by individuals who file applications:
1st violation - $50
2nd violation - $100
3rd violation - $200
Chronic violations (more than 3) - $2500; loss of right to hold special events

Failure to file:
1st violation - $500
2nd violation - $1000

I guess I understand what the ordinance's backers are trying to do--loud parties sure are annoying. But 10 days in advance? Does anyone plan that far in advance? What is the purpose of the 10 day requirement? And why does the notice have to be distributed to neighborhood associations? What purpose does that serve--let them know which landlord/homeowner to ostracize at the next meeting? And what exactly is a "violation" by an individual who files an application? Is the filer liable for the actions of ANY guest at the "special event"? Who has to file the application? A tenant? The homeowner? Why does this only apply to "boarding houses"? Are those parties more annoying than those thrown at houses owned by students?

Can't they just enforce the nuisance ordinances they already have instead of making up arbitrary conditions that make it obvious that they are targeting students? Sure, loud parties are annoying to neighbors, but they are just as annoying whether there are 10 or 30 people, landlord or tenant, planned two weeks ahead or last night. In fact, they are just as annoying if they are a group of 40-year-old professional homeowners gathering for a football bash or a group of 22-year-old renting students celebrating the end of the semester.

If parties are such a problem, they should just up the fines for disturbing the peace, add an escalating scale for repeat offenders, and leave it at that. No need for the ordinance to draw cross hairs on students. If students are the only offenders, it will catch them anyway, and if they aren't, the others shouldn't get a pass. But renting students aren't registered to vote here, so I doubt they're going to have much say in this.


ryan said...

Yeah, draconian and discriminatory, but I don't really plan on having more than 25 people over to my place at once, so my personal investment isn't what it might be. I'm unlikely to throw such a party, and am usually annoyed when such parties are thrown.

It's a bad law, but I'm not sure I mind all that much because it doesn't hurt me.

ryan said...

On second thought, this is most likely unconstitutional, as it inhibits freedom of assembly. If Jehovah's Witnesses can't be made to get a permit to proslytize, I can't see that students can be made to get permits to have a party.

Becca said...

Nah, you're not going to get them on constitutionality; time, place, and manner restrictions are okay. Though it does seem like you could make a rational basis argument on the restrictions.

My reaction was similar to yours: Initially I didn't see why I should care; I don't throw or attend parties of that nature, so it won't affect me. But on second thought, why in the world do they want to punish this specific class of people more than other citizens of the community for the same behavior? That's just stupid, and a tad insulting.

The Bard said...

Could it be because only this specific class of citizens in the community committ such offenses?

Becca is right on the constitutionality question. Not only will this easily pass the TMP test, but all we have is some vague right of free association, not any real "speech" and certainly not political speech.

Does anyone know who counts as a "boarding house?" Why do you say it excludes houses students own, so long as more than two non-relative people live there?

As for why file early, the whole point is to make parties more manageable. If the neighborhood knows, (and the cops know) in advance, the neighbors are less likely to plan their own quiet evening outside and see it disrupted, and I bet the cops will be in the area for the inevitable fight. If students have to file early, there will be fewer wild parties, and honestly, I don't see that as a bad thing or a constitutional right.

Finally, how about just a revenue raiser by the city? They are gonna make money off this.

Anonymous said...

Though it does seem like you could make a rational basis argument on the restrictions.

Really? What would that be, exactly? While stupid, the law is entirely rational.

Here's what I would do if I were a student in a house -- I would get my friends together the first week of school, pool some money, and immediately file applications for every single Friday and Saturday night for the semester. Then see if they try and deny you a permit.