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July 16th, 2008
Council will consider strengthening noise, host responsibility ordinances

Managing Editor

While emphasizing education and outreach as keys to curbing rowdy university student behavior, a city staff task force is recommending a range of tougher ordinances to cutting down on noise and other nuisance behavior.

In unveiling the group’s recommendations to the San Marcos city council on Tuesday, assistant police chief Lisa Dvorak asked policymakers for initial approval to pursue expanded authority for police officers to respond to problematic behavior usually attributed to younger residents who live in and around family-dominated neighborhoods.

Recommendations include:

  • Rewriting the city’s noise ordinance to make illegal any “noise extending beyond the property line” of a residence. The city current ordinance prohibits “unreasonable noise,” giving officers broad discretion to decide whether noise coming from a residence is disruptive to surrounding homeowners or renters.
  • Expanding the city’s host responsibility ordinance to include a number of new violations including public urination, property destruction, fights and arguments or “conduct or conditions that endanger safety or health of a neighborhood.” The existing host responsibility ordinance allows officers to ticket residents who throw parties in their homes for the illegal behavior of their guests but is limited to noise, alcohol and littering offenses.
  • Streamlining a “nuisance ordinance” already on the books which allows the city to condemn properties with repeated criminal offenses. The current ordinance sets too high a bar for proving a residence meets the standard of a nuisance property as defined by the ordinance, officials said.
  • Establishing officers’ authority to declare a party an “unruly gathering” and disperse participants.

The proposals drew the ire of city council member Chris Jones who questioned whether the host responsibility ordinance expansion in particular is so broad as to basically make all parties potentially illegally. Mayor Susan Narvaiz said the changes would “add teeth” to the noise and host responsibility ordinances originally adopted in 2002.

Dvorak said the proposed changes can be ready for city council consideration within 60 days.

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7 thoughts on “Council will consider strengthening noise, host responsibility ordinances

  1. I don’t understand your comment, Jude. Are you saying that there is no problem over here?

    There certainly is no shortage of people waiting in the wings, to shoot down any proposed solution, even before the details of those solutions are discussed, yet who offer no solutions of their own.

    Given your interest in public office, I was hoping you were not one of those people.

  2. No Ted I just want my neighbor’s kids not to be breaking the law when they are in their pool laughing and playing Marco Polo…or what about when I am mowing my yard will that be to loud too. We already have some nuisance ordinance that have “teeth,” for instance if you have 2 or more noise/nuisance violations within a 60 day period the city can condemn the property, but from what I understand the city has not done that yet to any properties. I don’t like the idea of a “nanny state” but I don’t want an “Animal House” to be allowed in our neighborhoods. The city can use that law I referred to handle most problems. However I am always open to anything to solve
    any problem. If anyone has ideas email me at b/c I will be
    out of the country for awhile

  3. This applies to noise in the middle of the night, adding a clearer definition to the current ordinance. It has nothing to do with mowing your lawn or playing Marco Polo in the middle of the day.

    I said before, no details have even been discussed yet.

    The current ordinances are not working, so I ask you again, what do you propose, to make them work? This has been an issue since before you ran, so you surely have a proposal.

  4. Interestingly, the noise barrier was shot down because it was not seen as practical. For example, 100′ of dense vegetation would be required to lower volume levels by 3db.

    Why that is interesting, is because originally, Sagewood was meant (and zoned) to be green space, as a buffer between the neighborhood and the apartments. That would have been several hundred feet of dense vegetation.

    Hmmm. Perhaps the original planners knew what they were doing.

    Now, it turns out, a significant amount of noise hits the neighborhood from the apartments AS WELL AS from Sagewood.

    So, don’t think that I am opposed to condemning and bulldozing and returning that land to its original, intended use.

    I just don’t see it happening.

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