Loud party law is 'a new attitude'

City Council introduces 'loud and unruly gatherings' ordinance modeled after an Arizona one that can fine offenders up to $8,000.

April 12, 2011|By Mike Reicher,

NEWPORT BEACH — When it comes to partying, UC Irvine students can't compete with the Wildcats at the University of Arizona. But in Newport Beach, where many Anteaters live, police are trying to one-up the Tucson Police Department's efforts to prevent wild parties.

At a City Council study session Tuesday, police officials introduced an ordinance restricting "loud and unruly gatherings." The law, modeled after one in Tucson, would give city officials the ability to fine partygoers up to $8,000 for repeat violations — more than five times what Arizona's law provides.

In this heavily conservative city, police and some residents for years have tried to tame partiers, especially those who overtake West Newport on the Fourth of July. They say this law could give them a strong deterrent as they try to make parts of Newport Beach more "family friendly."


"We would like to see stricter enforcement and less second chances," said Councilman Steve Rosansky, who represents much of West Newport, before the meeting. "It's just a new attitude, just less tolerance."

Mayor Mike Henn was less nuanced: "We need to have the ability to have shock and awe."

Henn and four other council members gave their preliminary approval of the ordinance; it still has to be formally voted on. Council members Leslie Daigle and Ed Selich dissented.

The law would allow officers to issue citations to people who organize a party that gets out of hand, to the property owners, and to people attending who violate its guidelines. Officers would post a large red tag on the door of the house and notify its owner if they observe a party where people are urinating in public, are drunk in public, are excessively noisy, serve alcohol to minors or display other behaviors.

"Usually it's the partygoers who are causing the problem," said Lt. Bill Hartford before the meeting. Other city laws dealing with loud parties only hold accountable the property tenant or property owner, he said.

Some West Newport residents spoke at the meeting in favor of the law.

"This isn't the Vegas Strip. These are our homes. This is our neighborhood," said Lori Morris, 48, who said she sometimes hoses vomit off her patio.

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