Proposed law would take aim at underage drinking

Jessie Haynes

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The City Council voted on Jan. 7 to send an ordinance that would reduce underage drinking and nuisance party behavior back to the Internal Affairs Committee for further revisions.

The social host ordinance would hold property owners, specifically those who lease or rent out their property, responsible for their tenants’ behavior, whether it be underage drinking or giving alcohol to minors. Fines start at $250 and go up to $1,000 for repeat offenses and the money would tentatively go to the police and fire departments.

“I think it’s the responsibility of the student and it’s the responsibility of the landlord, especially when parties aren’t allowed,” said Ruba Powell, of Hill Properties, which is in charge of many of the rental properties around town. “We have a responsibility to the students and to the town, to the parents, if their child is hurt or worse while living here. We really care about our town.”

Hill Properties and many other rental companies and landlords build rules into the lease, including limiting the number of people allowed in a house at once. Some landlords are better than others at responding to problem tenants.

“We do drive-bys, call co-signers if someone breaches a contract,” Powell said.

University officials are quick to say that it is not just Chico State students who are involved with large parties. Butte College students, visitors from out-of-town, non-students and high school students are also a part of Chico’s party scene.

Large parties regularly require significant police and emergency response, because of assaults, potential for sexual assaults, theft and damage to property, said Drew Calandrella, vice president for student affairs.

This is one tool available to the city and to landlords to protect the safety of people and property and certainly will help to mitigate the many alcohol issues existing in the city and campus,” Calandrella said.

Chico Party Scene, a business that provides professional party services, is not wholly supportive of the plan.

“Chico is a party town,” said owner Tenzin Paldhen. “You can’t stop the party.”

He added that they don’t want to promote underage drinking and want to create safe party environments.

Chico Party Scene is trying to adapt to the crackdown on alcohol in Chico, as many of their parties get shutdown. They are focusing more on venues and less on house parties.

“Cops come to a party — they could use a less harsh tone,” Paldhen said. “We had cops shut down our most controlled party so far. They need to look at what’s going on, make a judgment, let the kids have fun.”

Jessie Haynes can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.

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