Flagstaff City Council is hoping that the new changes it approved to the city’s Nuisance Party Ordinance in May will help cut down on the number of loud and obnoxious parties by NAU students and others next year.
The changes were approved by a 6-1 vote on May 19 despite concerns raised by Councilmember Jeff Oravits and members of the Flagstaff Liberty Alliance. They will go into effect on June 19.
The changes would allow Flagstaff police officers to issue civil citations and fine anyone who is contributing to making a disturbance at a party that has five or more people. It includes parties that are held at commercial properties as well.
The citations can be given to anyone making a disturbance at a party including: the host, tenant, guests or any other organizer. The per person fine for a first offense is $250. A second nuisance party within 120 days of the first will garner the violators a $500 fine. A third party within 120 days of the second party increases the fine to $1,000.
If there is criminal activity at the nuisance party, such as underage drinking, the fines per person increase to $500 for the first party, $1,000 for the second party and $2,000 for the third party.
People who are at the party but not creating a nuisance will not be cited or fined; however, they may be asked to leave.
A property owner can also be fined if a nuisance party is held at a property they are renting out. The police will mail a notice of the first nuisance party to the property owner by certified mail. If another nuisance party occurs within 30 days of the property owner being notified of the first party, then a second notice will be mailed and the property owner can be fined $250. A third party at the property can get the owner a $500 fine and a fourth and any subsequent parties will get them a $1,000 fine.
A property owner can appeal the citation and fine within 10 days of receiving notice of the party to Police Chief Kevin Treadway. The department can then waive the fine if it feels that the property owner is attempting to prevent further nuisance parties or is attempting to evict the people responsible for the nuisance from the property.
Property owners can also have the fee waived if they agree to join the department’s Crime-Free Multi-Housing Program and requiring tenants to sign a crime-free lease addendum. Property owners with more than 100 units can also get a fee waived if they agree to hire private security.
Josh Collier of the Flagstaff Liberty Alliance, who represented the organization’s view at the May Council meeting, said the language in the changes was too broad and could allow police to crack down on anyone attending a nuisance party. The language should be tailored to affect those who are causing the nuisance rather than everyone who might be at a party, he said.
Flagstaff Liberty Alliance also objected to party goers being hit with a civil fine from the ordinance and possibly a criminal citation for actions such as supplying alcohol to minors, Collier said. It wasn’t fair to charge someone with both a civil and criminal violation.
Oravits voiced concerns about notifying and fining property owners for the actions of their tenants. A landlord could be in the process of trying to evict a tenant and get hit with a fine for a party, he said.
Police Chief Kevin Treadway pointed out that the changes included an appeals process for property owners. The department was more than willing to work with a property owner who was trying to correct a situation at their property.
Mayor Jerry Nabours said he liked the changes. It gave the city and officers a tool to make property owners and landlords take notice of the actions of their tenants.
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