Noise ordinance aims to reduce complaints

The north and south areas of campus have a history of noise complaints according to Mark Sorenson, mayor of Chico. Now the city council has stepped in to try to put an end to the problem.

On Oct. 20, the council approved additions to an already-established noise ordinance which will now allow officers to issue citations and misdemeanors to violators. The changes to the ordinance will strive to ensure student safety and combat resident complaints, Sorensen said.

First, officers will issue a verbal or written warning to anyone who has received a noise complaint. However, on the second offense, they are now able to issue a citation.

Additionally, a misdemeanor can be given if the second offense occurs within 30 days of the first offense.

These conditions of the ordinance may not only affect the person receiving the complaint, but the owner of the establishment. If a third complaint is made to the same violator within a 180 day period, the officer is entitled to issue a citation to the property owner where the resident lives.

There was recently a party at the corner of 12th and Ivy streets that got a little out of control, said Kate Thompson, manager of Pine Tree Apartments.

“The ordinance may have shut it down, but instead the police couldn’t get involved until 2 a.m.,” she said.

The north and south areas of campus often occupy, or demand, almost 100 percent of the police department’s resources, Sorensen said.

“There are definitely certain areas where noise is a problem,” said Ashley Ingber, junior journalism major. “These areas also have the highest number of sexual assaults. About 60 percent happen here.”

Ashley Ingber, junior journalism major, believes there are certain areas in Chico that are the source of many noise complaints. Photo credit: Lauren Anderson

In addition to the school, noise is also a problem in residential areas, said Jim Smith, assistant manager at Pine Tree Apartments.

The noise disrupts residents living in the areas, and the ordinance hopes to ease the number of complaints, Sorensen said.

“It’s not fair to the rest of the city and folks who live in these areas,” Smith said.

Sorensen recently took a trip to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to gain insight on how the campus has solved similar issues.

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo houses nearly half of its total student body on campus while Chico State houses only 15 percent of students enrolled, Sorensen said.

The number of students living off campus in Chico may contribute to the noise complaints, Smith said.

“I think that impacts the problem,” Smith said. “Many first-year students get off campus and want to party, because they can’t do that in the dorms.”

The trip to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo also gave the city tools for how to combat similar noise complaint issues.

According to campus police at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, a noise ordinance was one of the most successful tools that they used to curb events before they became dangerous and out of control.

However, in Chico, some apartments like The Timbers on Nord Avenue already have their own system in place for noise and don’t think the ordinance is necessary.

“We encourage students to call security about noise complaints,” said Caitlin Greenwood, assistant manager at The Timbers.

Caitlin Greenwood, assistant manager at The Timbers, has measures in place to stop students and residents from causing more noise than they should. Photo credit: Lauren Anderson

Additionally, some students don’t feel that they solely contribute to the noise problem. It’s unfair that the ordinance is focused heavily on them, said Jennifer Wathen, junior computer animation and game development major.

“It’s targeted at students,” she said.

At her apartment complex, adults with children tend to make more noise than the students who tend to be more focused on their schoolwork, she said.

Apartment landlords feel the ordinance will cut down on parties and “ragers,” but they also don’t feel the change will impact them personally.

“Property managers are not affected as much,” said Thompson. “The police can get involved and do their job.”

The ordinance aim to help cut down on big parties and ensure student safety. The goal is to curb out-of-control events, not stop student’s from having fun, said Sorensen.

“The police department anticipates an overall decrease in noise complaints and safer neighborhoods for residents and students,” Sorensen said.

Lauren Anderson can be reached at [email protected] or @laurentaylora on Twitter.