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City Council Unanimously Passes First Reading of “NO PARTY? Ordinance

City Council Unanimously Passes First Reading of “NO PARTY? Ordinance

Thinking of having a little shindig for your next birthday? Want to have a party to celebrate your promotion at work? How about getting together and having dinner with a few friends out on your patio? Well, you better think again because any one of those activities could land you a hefty fine, a certified letter to your landlord and, if you’re under 21, another certified letter to your parents. Plus, you and the aforementioned parties will be billed an undisclosed amount of money, as soon as the city determines how much they want to charge you for sending an officer out to issue the warning and/or citation.

These are all part of the city’s revision of the Santa Cruz Municipal Code Chapter 9.37 pertaining to “loud? or “unruly? gatherings. In response to years of complaints by neighbors plagued by student parties, the city council is making sweeping changes to the ordinance that will affect every one of us, student or not, if you ever want to gather with more than one friend at a time, that is.

The current ordinance defines “loud? and “unruly? as “…a gathering of two or more persons on private property or a permitted gathering of two or more persons on public property whose loud or unruly conduct constitutes a threat to public health, safety or general welfare…? This portion would be amended to also include “quiet enjoyment of residential property? and also adds that “a loud or unruly gathering shall constitute a public nuisance.?

The Council is unabashed about the law’s intent to target student parties. It’s interesting, then, that this would be introduced exactly the week after students have left town, especially because in other cities, such as San Luis Obispo, the police have worked with the students to reduce the number of complaints and parties (see for more info). The Council did not indicate, at least in the meeting last night, that any other avenues had been explored or if they had ever tried to involve students in the solution even though, again, they are cited as THE reason for casting this wide net of punishment. Indeed the letter recommending the ordinance, written by Santa Cruz Mayor Mike Rotkin, exclusively discusses student “party house(s),? absentee landlords that rent to students, and it assumes that your landlord and/or your mommy or daddy have “arguably the most influence as to how the property continues to be used? and that’s why they receive certified letters and a share of the bill.

So, what about the rest of us?

Though the council claims that the ordinance is not intended to affect those of us who want to have a normal sized birthday party, for example, there is absolutely NOTHING in the ordinance that makes a distinction between the loud-several-hundred-pee-on-the-neighbor’s-lawn kind of party and your birthday gathering with a few of your friends. If a neighbor is bothered, or even just says they are bothered, the police come to your house and the officer has sole discretion to decide on the spot if they think there is a “loud and unruly gathering? going on. The Council has not clarified whether or not the officer simply showing up in the first place constitutes a warning, or if it is the officer’s determination that constitutes a warning. Either way, you have no rights or say in this, it is completely up to “the officer’s discretion.? Now, if you are a homeowner, this would mean a warning. If you are a renter, the implications could be far more grave.

In fact, one of the most disturbing things about the ordinance is that its affects on renters is far more serious that its affect on homeowners. This is due to the landlord notification portion of the revision. If a homeowner receives a warning then that’s all that it is – a warning. If a renter receives a warning, the city will send a certified letter to your landlord informing them of the incident. If you are under 21, they will also send a letter to your mom and dad, even if they aren’t on the lease. In a tight housing market where relationships with landlords can be dodgey at best, not only does this beg the question of your right to privacy, but it also sets the stage for your landlord to raise your rent, not renew your lease or take other actions against you. All because you decided to have some friends over and a neighbor was disturbed. No more, “Ok we’re sorry and we’ll take it inside.? Nope. Only homeowners have this privilege because there isn’t any landlord to receive the certified letter, even though it was only a warning.

This may seem like a hypothetical example, but it is not. I know, because the cops were recently called to my 34th Birthday Party, which was neither “loud? nor “unruly.? It was a regular old birthday party with music, dancing, etc. Even though we had informed all of our neighbors and gave them our contact information, someone stilled called the police. The police came, told us to move inside, we did and it was fine. But, if this ordinance were on the books, my landlord would be receiving a certified letter right around the time that my lease is up for renewal.

A few other things that the amended ordinance would do is change the time period in which you go from warning to citations from the current 12 hours to 12 months. You read that right! Twelve hours to twelve months. It would also raise the citations from $35 to $250 for the first citation, and $500 and $1000 respectively for the second or third. The landlord notification portion is new and so is the parental notification.

Perhaps many people don’t think this ordinance applies to them because they don’t tend to have “loud? or “unruly? parties. However, this would be a grave misconception because if you are someone who ever gathers with more than one friend at your house, you are subject to this ordinance to be interpreted and enforced by your neighbors and the police officer that arrives on the scene. There is no appeals process and your only hope is to fight the citation in court. But, you may be busy looking for a new place to live because by that time, your landlord will have received two certified letters and a bill.

The council will be making a final vote on this at their afternoon meeting on Tuesday June 28.


For more information:

**Call the city at 420-5020 for a copy of the proposed amended ordinance

** (to see the old ordinance)


**Read below for the Mike Rotkin’s recommendation letter:


DATE: June 7, 2005

AGENDA OF: June 14, 2005

DEPARTMENT: City Council

SUBJECT: Amendments to Santa Cruz Municipal Code Chapter 9.37 Pertaining to Loud or Unruly Gatherings

RECOMMENDATION: That the City Council introduce for publication the attached Ordinance Amending Santa Cruz Municipal Code Chapter 9.37 Pertaining to Loud or Unruly Gatherings.

BACKGROUND: For some time now I have been conferring with constituents from various City neighborhoods who are concerned that the City’s ordinance which provides for sanctions of persons responsible for loud or unruly gatherings, is ineffective as a deterrent to these gatherings. As might be expected, the bulk of the complaints concern houses rented by absentee landlords to students and the parties which take place on multiple occasions during the school year at many of these houses. The noise and other secondary impacts of these parties including excessive automobile traffic, litter, public intoxication and trespassing on neighboring properties is obviously not compatible with the quiet residential use which the majority of neighborhood occupants, i.e. long-term renters, homeowners and families wish for their neighborhood to foster.

The City’s current ordinance pertaining to loud or unruly gatherings, Santa Cruz Municipal Code Chapter 9.37, was adopted in 1989. It authorizes the City to recover its police response costs when the Police Department is called to a loud party twice within a 12-hour period. Those costs can be recovered from the “responsible person,? currently defined to be the person who has the property’s right of possession. Typically in a student lease situation, this will be the student to whom the house is rented. The current criminal fine for a violation of Chapter 9.37 is $35.00.

DISCUSSION: It is apparent to me that Chapter 9.37, in its current form, offers an insufficient disincentive for students and other inconsiderate neighbors to discontinue the “party? conduct that disproportionately and negatively impacts the quiet enjoyment of City neighborhoods by other residents. First of all, police response charges can only be assessed when party noise generates a police response twice within 12 hours. As a result, a “party house? always gets one bite at the apple for each party it has on a different day of the year. Secondly, the criminal fine for violating Chapter 9.37 is negligible. Finally, the persons with arguably the most influence as to how the property continues to be used, i.e. the absentee landlord and the parents of the responsible students are generally beyond the reach of the current ordinance.

This ordinance, if adopted by the City Council, would address the current ordinance’s deficiencies. First of all, police response charges would be assessed for each subsequent response within a 12-month, as opposed to a 12-hour, period. Secondly, not only the student but also the student’s absentee landlord and the student’s parents if the student is a minor, would be responsible for the police response costs assessed for each subsequent response within a 12-month period. Thirdly, this ordinance would substantially stiffen the criminal fine structure for violations. A first violation will be punishable by a $250.00 fine. A second violation within a 12-month period will be punishable by a $500.00 fine. A third or subsequent violation within a 12-month period shall be punishable by a fine of $1,000.00. Finally, although state law governs the consumption of alcohol by minors and the provision of alcohol to minors (thereby preempting the City from legislating in this area) Section 9.37.060 of the proposed ordinance would articulate a City “no tolerance? policy for consumption of alcohol by minors at these parties and the provision of alcohol to minors at these parties thereby making it clear that the Police Department is to strictly enforce these laws against party hosts and party patrons when called upon to respond to a party in accordance with Chapter 9.37. In this regard, Section 9.37.060, in addition to articulating the City’s “no tolerance? policy, directs the Police Department to contact, or cause the minor’s school to contact, the minor’s parents or legal guardians whenever a minor is found to be in possession of alcohol or narcotics or found to be intoxicated at a loud or unruly gathering. In addition, where the minor’s school has an internal student disciplinary office, any such incident shall likewise be reported to that office.

Submitted by:

Mike Rotkin

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Re: City Council Unanimously Passes First Reading of “NO PARTY? Ordinance

Thanks for the report, Lisam.

This proposed ordinance is unnecessary. Police officers already have the power to shut parties down with charges of disturbing the peace, underage drinking and contributing to the delinquency of minors. Although I have been extremely frustrated by some loud neighbor's parties before, this proposal doesn't seem like the answer.

Re: City Council Unanimously Passes First Reading of “NO PARTY? Ordinance

Yet another reason not to live in Santa Cruz or locate your business there. The city council can't seem to get it together when it comes to basic civil liberties. No parking for your couch surfing friends after 12 midnight. No talking outside after 10 pm or so thanks to this new "party ordinance". And the list goes on.

Re: City Council Unanimously Passes First Reading of “NO PARTY? Ordinance

Here is the full text of the proposed amended ordinance:

ORDINANCE NO. 2005-____

SECTIONS 9.37.010, 9.37.020, 9.37.030, 9.37.040 AND ADDING

BE IT ORDAINED By The City Of Santa Cruz As Follows:

Section 1. Section 9.37.010 of the Santa Cruz Municipal Code is hereby amended to read as follows:

“9.37.010. DEFINITIONS.
The following terms used in this Chapter shall have the meanings set forth in this Section.
(a) “Responsible person(s)? shall mean a person(s) with a right of possession in the property on which a loud or unruly gathering is conducted, including, but not limited to, an owner or tenant of the property if the gathering is on private property, or a permittee if the gathering is a permitted gathering on public property, or any person(s) accepting responsibility for such a gathering. “Responsible person? shall additionally include the landlord of another responsible person and the parents and/or legal guardians of responsible persons under the age of 21 years. To incur liability for special security service charges imposed by this Chapter the responsible person need not be present at the loud or unruly gathering resulting in the emergency response giving rise to the imposition of special security service charges. This Chapter therefore imposes vicarious as well as direct liability upon responsible persons.
(b) “Special security services? shall mean the provision of any police, fire or other emergency response service to a loud or unruly gathering within twelve months of a first response as provided in this Chapter.
(c) “Loud or unruly gathering? shall mean a gathering of two or more persons on private property or a permitted gathering of two or more persons on public property whose loud or unruly conduct constitutes a threat to public health, safety, quiet enjoyment of residential property or general welfare, including violations of Chapter 9.36. This term excludes incidents of domestic violence. A loud or unruly gathering shall constitute a public nuisance.?

Section 2. Section 9.37.020 of the Santa Cruz Municipal Code is hereby amended to read as follows:

When a police officer responds to a first loud or unruly gathering at premises in the City with a given address, the officer shall inform any responsible person at the scene that:
(a) The officer has determined that a loud or unruly gathering exists; and
(b) Responsible persons will be charged for the cost of any special security services required for subsequent responses to the scene within the next twelve months.?
Only one warning will be given pursuant to this Section before the City assesses special security service costs pursuant to Section 9.37.030. If a responsible person cannot be identified at the scene, the Police Department may issue a warning to one of the other responsible persons identified in Section 9.37.010(a) or subsequently return to the scene and issue the warning to a then-present responsible person. Warnings given to responsible persons who do not reside at the premises in question shall be delivered by certified mail.

Section 3. Section 9.37.030 of the Santa Cruz Municipal Code is hereby amended to read as follows:

When the Police Department or Fire Department or other City emergency responder responds to a loud or unruly gathering at premises with a given address in the City within twelve months of a warning given to a responsible person for those premises pursuant to Section 9.37.020, or while any such warning remains in effect pursuant to Section 9.37.050, all responsible persons shall be jointly and severally liable for the City’s costs of providing special security service for that response and all subsequent responses during that warning period.?

Section 4. Section 9.37.040 of the Santa Cruz Municipal Code is hereby amended to read as follows:

Charges for special security service shall include a reasonable charge for the emergency responder’s time and actual costs of any equipment used or damaged in connection with the response, together with an additional thirty-three percent of the special security charge for administrative overhead. These charges shall be computed and a bill submitted to the responsible person(s). The Chief of Police shall promulgate notice and billing procedures for this purpose. The bill shall be a debt owed to the City and failure to pay that bill within thirty days is a violation of this Code. If the City is obliged to initiate litigation or other proceedings authorized by Title 4 of this Code to recover this debt, the responsible person shall be liable for:
(a) Costs of suit;
(b) Attorney’s fees; and
(c) Costs of collection.?

Section 5. Section 9.37.050 is hereby added to the Santa Cruz Municipal Code to read as follows:

(a) It shall be an infraction for a responsible person to conduct or allow a loud or unruly gathering on premises owned by the responsible person or on premises rented by or to the responsible person. A third or subsequent violation within a twelve month period shall constitute a misdemeanor.
(b) Fines.
(1) A first violation of this Section shall be punishable by a $250 fine.
(2) A second violation of this Section at a given address in the City within a given twelve month period shall be punishable by a fine of $500.
(3) A third or subsequent violation of this Section at a given address in the City within a given twelve month period shall be punishable by a fine of $1,000.
(c) The fines prescribed at subsection (b) are in addition to any special security service charges that may be assessed pursuant to this Chapter.
(d) The second, third or subsequent violation fines prescribed at subsections (b)(2) and (b)(3) are payable whether or not the responsible person at the time of the current loud or unruly gathering is the same person who was the responsible person for any prior loud or unruly gathering at those premises.
(e) The fine schedule prescribed at subsection (b) is a “rolling schedule? meaning that in calculating the fine payable the Police Department or City Attorney shall count backward starting from the date of the most recent loud or unruly gathering to determine how many prior loud or unruly gatherings have taken place at the premises in question during the statutory twelve month period. A warning given pursuant to Section 9.27.020 shall remain in effect for the premises at a given address until a full twelve month period has elapsed during which there have been no loud or unruly gatherings at those premises.?

Section 6. Section 9.37.060 is hereby added to the Santa Cruz Municipal Code to read as follows:

The City Council hereby finds that the service of alcohol to minors at loud and unruly gatherings and the consumption of alcohol by minors at loud or unruly gatherings has in the past and continues to pose a threat to the health and safety of all persons who reside in the City and also causes significant disruption of City residents’ quiet enjoyment of their households, especially in the City’s residential neighborhoods. In addition, such conduct on behalf of persons who serve alcohol to minors and minors who consume alcohol at loud or unruly gatherings results in the expenditure of a disproportionate percentage of the City’s police, fire and public safety resources which are underwritten primarily by general municipal taxes paid to the City by its taxpayers and residents. It is therefore the policy of the City Council that in responding to loud or unruly gatherings, the City Police Department shall strictly enforce any and all applicable state laws pertaining to the service of alcohol to minors, and the consumption of alcohol by minors, and with respect to minors in possession of alcohol, the Police Department shall establish a “no tolerance? protocol by which the Police Department contacts, or causes the minor’s school to contact, the minor’s parents or legal guardians whenever the minor is found to be in possession of alcohol or narcotics or found to be intoxicated at a loud or unruly gathering. Where the minor’s school has an internal student disciplinary office any such incident shall likewise be reported to that office?

Section 6. This ordinance shall take effect and be in force thirty (30) days after its final adoption.

PASSED FOR PUBLICATION this day of , 2005 by the following vote:





APPROVED: ____________________________

ATTEST: ____________________________
City Clerk

PASSED FOR FINAL ADOPTION this day of , 2005 by the following vote:




APPROVED: _____________________________

ATTEST: ________________________
City Clerk

This is to certify that the above
and foregoing document is the
original of Ordinance No. 2005-____
and that it has been published or
posted in accordance with the
Charter of the City of Santa Cruz.

City Clerk

Re: City Council Unanimously Passes First Reading of “NO PARTY? Ordinance

This is really bad for renters it gives landlords a reason to evict people so they can double the rent and make more money, the Anarchist cafe will be affected by this if it passes.

Great Idea!!

As a fourth generation of my family to live on my street, (120 years), I think it's a great idea!! I'm tired of whether or not I sleep at night being dictated by loud, rude people!! Finally an ordinance with some teeth in it that can't be ignored!!

Due Process, Mike?

Our "Marxist-feminist" mayor [NY Times] seems to have forgotten all about due process. Does the mere fact of a single telephone call to police trigger all this? Does a new tenant step into the shoes of her predecessor, so that a new violation gets treated like a multiple violation? Are people who hold parties the only citizens who will pay the specific costs of police response? (What about people who commit domestic violence, or damage property, or ... ?)

The timing of this ordinance is particularly amusing. Mike waited until the students had left for the summer. Next year, when they come back, he will continue to curry favor with them. He enjoys wild popularity on campus, even though he makes numerous anti-student and anti-University political decisions on Santa Cruz City Council and on the Metro Board.

One wishes that Mike's actions were consistent with his stated beliefs. One also wishes that Mike's actions reflected basic knowledge of the law.

It should be possible to regulate parties effectively and fairly, but Santa Cruz City Council isn't smart enough to do it.

Re: City Council Unanimously Passes First Reading of “NO PARTY? Ordinance

Tony Madrigal, a current city council member, said while campaigning that he was the only renter running for city council. He said that he "felt the pain" of the renters. Well where was he on this one? Email him and ask him...

Re: City Council Unanimously Passes First Reading of “NO PARTY? Ordinance

"This is really bad for renters it gives landlords a reason to evict people so they can double the rent and make more money, the Anarchist cafe will be affected by this if it passes."

Because renters in Santa Cruz have so few rights...

Re: City Council Unanimously Passes First Reading of “NO PARTY? Ordinance

About time for this law. This will only hurt the loud, rude people who don't care about their neighbors.

Re: City Council Unanimously Passes First Reading of “NO PARTY? Ordinance


This is why the government should never be used to solve a problem. Because they always go too far, taking whatever noble and well-intentioned cause you give them and going too far with it, turning it into a weapon of mass destruction for use against an entire section of society which they were already repressing anyway, and using it as one more excuse to parasitically extort money from people which goes directly into the coffers of their employer. And they don't even have to call it theft.

Big Government is not the solution - TO ANYTHING!

Re: City Council Unanimously Passes First Reading of “NO PARTY? Ordinance

I don't get it... don't the cops already shut down every other party?

Re: City Council Unanimously Passes First Reading of “NO PARTY? Ordinance

Probably wouldn't even be an issue if the West Side Cancer hadn't been allowed to get so big and unrully.

Half the size of the UC and landlords will be lowering the rent just to fill the spaces.

Is there a pattern here? I think so.

Disrespect: A Problem For Over Thirty Years

This has been a problem in my Seabright neighborhood for over thirty years!...Gentrification has been caused by all the potentially millions of transplants that just have to move here. They can afford the housing that people I grew up with in the '50's and '60's couldn't.(born here>1950) Most of the folks my father went through school with here left long ago too. Out of all the friends I've seen leave, dozens of them black, never once did I hear them whine! Lots of new people make a lifestyle out of it! It's always the evil real estate/landlord/ or government. Just look in the mirror to find the problem! People are so full of shit, they can rationalize anything!...If folks would just show some respect, there wouldn't be any need for government intervention! Just think, what if there weren't cops/laws to save your ass from people like me!!

Re: City Council Unanimously Passes First Reading of “NO PARTY? Ordinance

Go Bones! I whole heartedly agree all. All these transplants move here and want to dictate the way things are because they don't have the balls to do it where they came from.

Bones & Santa Cruz Native

Hey you two, i don't understand what you're saying. I'm not trying to be antagonistic or anything, there's just been so many comments to this article that i don't get what you're responding to or what point you're trying to make.

You clearly both have a beef with transplants to Santa Cruz, but it's not at all clear to me whether it's primarily with the aging nouveaux riches who are probably largely behind this or the students who are the target of it. Who are you accusing of whining and what are you supposing that they're whining about? Who are you accusing of "wanting to dictate the way things are"? If anyone is trying to dictate anything, it seems to me that it's the City Council at the behest of well-off westside residents (as if they weren't largely one and the same).

Please do explain what you're talking about.

Radio Show Sunday at 10 AM Will Discuss This Topic

R. Paul Marcelin-Sampson (see post above) will be discussing this done-deal ordinance on Sunday on Free Radio Santa Cruz at 10 AM.

Folks are invited to listen in (101.1 FM or call in. Other folks interested in discussing it or airing their views are welcome to do the same at 831-427-3772 or .

A city council member may or may not call in on another item on the Tuesday City Council agenda. If he does, I'll hope he stays on the line long enough to answer a few questions about this law.

Fhar is also invited to be on this show (in person, if he wants) and can reach me at 831-423-4833.

Re: City Council Unanimously Passes First Reading of “NO PARTY? Ordinance

Really in my view both are the problem. Partying is fine but people think that it's cool to be loud obnoxious Dumb Sh*ts at 2 or 3 in the morning. I've had people try to start fights with me when parties get broken up around my house.

The "nouveaux riches" come in and dictate things one way and the students another. Bones is right by saying common courtesy. If there was that I don't think the party thing would be that much of a hassle.

Continous partying that goes on every night till the early hours of the morning is inconsiderate.

Really the UC has just gotten to big and continues to do so for Santa Cruz. It's like all of the west side and downtown are just a huge extension of the campus anymore.

Santa Cruz is the new Chico. It's unfortunate that they have to spoil everyones fun but it has definitely gotten out of hand, and unfortunately it is neccessary to resort to such Draconian measures to bring it under control.

I think they should start with three times a month and see where that gets them. I really don't care if people have a couple of loud parties a year on weekends or holidays, but people move into my nieghborhood and think they can just be loud anytime they want. That's not cool.

Re: City Council Unanimously Passes First Reading of “NO PARTY? Ordinance

It's not just students that are disrespectful with out of control partying, or only the newby rich that are behind the ordinance. People I know that are behind the law are regular old natives like me, who just want some sleep! I'm tired of asking people to please show some respect, and getting verbally abused in return. (They could care less if the heat tells them to quiet down, or issues a minor ticket) If there were no laws protecting rude punks like that, it would get real ugly, and I prefer not to go there...I hear alot of relatively new people whine about laws/realtors/landlords as if it's a conspiracy against them. If you can afford the housing here, you are just as responsible for gentrification as anyone else.(The general rule is, if you weren't born here, you can't complain!)...There seems to be a new condescending arrogance in this town. Working a job in this country, or accepting a pension/trust fund/disability/welfare or whatever, you/we are benefitting from every atrocity USA has ever committed. It's hard to realize, when standing on it's shoulders!

Re: City Council Unanimously Passes First Reading of “NO PARTY? Ordinance

Bones complains, "If you weren't born here, you can't complain!"

Born where? America? I thought we had the right to travel in this country.

Re: City Council Unanimously Passes First Reading of “NO PARTY? Ordinance

Also in response to Bones:

1. Those collecting welfare are paying the least into the war machine.

2. Those collecting pensions and welfare are benefiting from struggles by workers and the poor for those programs against the same corporations and government that bring us to war. Nobody, but the extremely wealthy are really benefiting from war.

3. We all have, or should have, the right to speak our minds and complain.

Re: City Council Unanimously Passes First Reading of “NO PARTY? Ordinance

1. Those collecting welfare are paying the least into the war machine.

But, they are also the most dependent on it.

2. Those collecting pensions and welfare are benefiting from struggles by workers and the poor for those programs against the same corporations and government that bring us to war. Nobody, but the extremely wealthy are really benefiting from war.

And, appaearently those who voted for Bush feel that they are getting some benifit from it. Not that they neccessarily are, just that they believe they are.

Also what allows landlords to jack up the rent is the ever expanding UC. It creates a housing shortage, thusly creating a greater demand for housing. They build more and more units and destroy the small town beauty of Santa Cruz. And make it hard for the natives to continue living here. So we are getting forced out as Bones was saying.
IS that right? Politcally Correct?

Personally I have gotten sick of all the transplants acting like they are only the solution without realising they are causing problems too. It's always the other guy.

Rotkin Admits "Party" Ordinance Seeks to Place More Cops on Street

At the last SC City Council meeting, Mike Rotkin made it clear that part of the reason for this new ordinance is to raise funds to put more cops on the street.

Paying Charges For the Police to Show Up?

How is it reasonable that the ordinance would impose an additional fine to "cover" the costs of the police showing up at your house?

They don't impose such a "charge" if they come to a house on a domestic violence charge. And yet, the cops have otherwise engaged in the exact same actions.

Sending Notice to Your Landlord?

And what's this bullshit with sending notice to your landlord?

No notice is sent to your landlord if you kill someone, drive drunk, or raid the workers' pension fund.

Nor is there any notice sent to the landlord if some guy regularly screams at and/or beats up his wife.

But if you have some friends over at your house to celebrate a joyous event, then you risk having notice sent to your landlord, increasing the chance that the landlord will raise your rent or evict you.

Re: City Council Unanimously Passes First Reading of “NO PARTY? Ordinance

"Anonymous Poster" says, "Also what allows landlords to jack up the rent is the ever expanding UC."

The UC does play a role in providing a market where landlords can charge ever-greater amounts for rent. This does not mean that students are evil.

What ultimately allows for ever greater costs for rent are both capitalist ownership in the renter “owner? relationship as well as unhindered capitalism without rent control.

Rent control helps in cities that have it. The ultimate rent control is in Cuba where no more than eight percent of your income can be charged for rent.

Meanwhile in Santa Cruz the City Council has taken it upon themselves to make the position of renters even more repressive.

You want to fight me because of where I was born rather than the landlord and government that is exploiting you? You want to join those same landlords and government in stripping renters of more rights. O.K., but you are fighting against your own interests.

Re: City Council Unanimously Passes First Reading of “NO PARTY? Ordinance

Dear fellow progressives,

Greetings to you all on this beautiful summer day. We have many important struggles, but this week I was alerted to one that affects young people, many of whom are not here to represent their interest in the summer months.

And, yes there are many issues I am or could be working on much more, I feel strongly compelled to represent their interests as best I can, and my own, for a fair and objective approach to how we as a community handle punishing people for having public gatherings.

While there are some problem party-ers in Santa Cruz, this new anti-renters/anti-student ordinance is not an objective, fair solution.

As it defines a party as "two or more persons at a private or PUBLICLY-permitted gathering who are interrupting the quiet enjoyment of residential property", you personally may be impacted, fined, evicted, or convicted of a misdemeanor by having two complaints within ONE twelve month period from a grumpy neighbor, housemates having gatherings while you're out of town or even just an arbitrary decision made by police.

And, if it doesn't affect you directly, you should still be helping to fight it because it is unfairly punitive to renters and young people ages 18-21.

If anything we need more of a community dialogue and solution about this, developed with more than one stakeholder involved. Like the University and young people for one.

Please read my letter to SC Councilmembers below, and please show up at the City Council mtg this Tuesday night to voice your opinion on this issue. I believe there are some points they might listen to if there are sufficient citizens against this ordinance at the meeting.



Dear Council,

Despite not being a youth or a renter any longer, I am concerned about the punitive outcome of this new anti-student/anti-renter ordinance. I'll outline some of my concerns, but I have many more about this ordinance.

I believe it reflects a good intention to deal with the public safety issues but there is too much vague language and flaws to be passed as it is. We should spend more time creating a solution that really works and is a fair, objective way to intentionally target the offending residents.

I see some similarities with the downtown ordinances in the vagueness of the language, the lack of a community dialogue and solution with all stakeholders providing invested input. The fact that the ordinance is considerably more punitive for renters and persons under 21 seems rather patriarchal and unfair.

We can work together as a community to create a real solution, not just one imposed by government in an heavy-handed manner. This ordinance specifically targets the student population and leaves a lot of room for subjectivity around complaints with no clear criteria or an appeal process.

For example, what exactly does "the quiet enjoyment of residential property" mean? Without clear criteria, this can be interpreted subjectively to target youth, non-property owners and even downtown events. For example, "a permitted gathering in a public space" could affect the "the quiet enjoyment of residential property" and be used by neighbors to complain and fine the "responsible persons" for successful community events, peaceful protests and other "permitted gatherings" in public spaces that affect residential property.

There are no doubt several party houses who are major offenders. To effectively target them, then the language needs to be more clear. As one example, changing the 12 month time frame for complaints to sixty days would deter the ongoing regular parties of the major offenders and not adversely affect those who simply have two gatherings a year and a grumpy neighbor. This is just much too broad of a time frame.

This disproportionally targets renters since they, in effect, never receive a warning while homeowners do. The "warning" of renters is an immediate letter sent to their landlord which could threaten their housing situation and increase their rent. I believe that landlords will raise rents and use this as a way to pass the cost on to tenants, instead of being responsible for the actions of their tenants as the ordinance intends.

I could see landlords charging an extra fee to students and persons under 21 as a result, since they need to be able to cover the risk that this ordinance would now incur for renting to young people and students. Renters know how difficult it is to get absentee landlords to be accountable. This vicarious liability will just enable them to pass the cost on to renters and will not make landlords responsible for parties and the behavior of their tenants.

Another scenario allowed for in the current language of this ordinance is the changing of housemates during a school year. For example, if I move into a house which has had one violation/"warning" and a letter sent to the landlord, and then I throw a party when my housemates are out of town, I get the whole house into trouble by incurring a second violation without having any knowledge of the first, and yet, I am then held responsible for a portion of the fine. This is another reason why the twelve month timeline is unfair and more punitive to tenants, who are more likely to change homes throughout the year than homeowners.

When moving in or sub-letting a summer house, you have no way of knowing the history of house when you move into it. Currently the ordinance doesn't fine based on responsible persons, but the entire household/the actual property is affected.

I could be out of town and my housemates receive a "warning" (letter to landlord and parents) even though I was not responsible for the action. This language should be clarified in order to hold the real offenders accountable, not every tenant, not the landlords, not the parents, who may or may not have any influence at all. Those who caused the disturbance should be clearly defined as being accountable, treated as adults, and there should be an appeals process for a tenant who was not at the party nor responsible for it.

I am also concerned about the use of city funding for pursuing collection of the snail mail addresses of parents of residents under age 21 especially when we are struggling for funding and city staff time as it is. I do not feel it is appropriate to ask taxpayers to pay for city staff to fund time and resources to track down parents of 18-21 year olds. If it is University students who are the problem, the University needs to provide some staffing towards the solution.

Transplant Sniveling

Argue, It is a general rule, imposed by folks from here, that if you weren't born here, you can't complain about the changes (high housing, etc.) in Santa Cruz, because you're part of the problem. Talk about right-wingers being narrow minded! Obviously you have a right to snivel on local t.v.,here, at the council meetings, etc. Like I said before, cheap entertainment on tuesday night!... You're a good example of people rationalizing anything, with your crock about welfare people being exempt from living off the USA machine. That's almost good comedy!

Re: City Council Unanimously Passes First Reading of “NO PARTY? Ordinance

Sounds like the laws from the good ol' days of chattel slavery, which forbade more than five slaves from gathering at once.

Re: City Council Unanimously Passes First Reading of “NO PARTY? Ordinance

Lets see, under that rationale people who want quiet to sleep at night are analogous with slave owners, and the poor students/renters feel as oppressed as slaves? The high drama of the self-righteous never ceases to amaze. ...Oh yeah, I grew up with two American Indian buddies here that feel the same way as me, so I speak for them too!

Re: City Council Unanimously Passes First Reading of “NO PARTY? Ordinance

Ok Folks. I'm glad to see that so many people have commented on this and I hope that whatever views people have, they will come and express them tomorrow (Tuesday, June 28) at the 3:00pm City Council Session.

Below is a letter that I am sending to Councilmembers today. It is clear that there are people in our community who have been seriously affected by out of control gatherings in their neighborhoods. I agree that this is not acceptable and should not be tolerated, especially on a regular basis. However, I don't believe that a sweepingly punitive ordinance that affects all renters good or bad AND all landlords good or bad, is the answer. I also think it's imperative to have some education around this issue and some dialog, particularly with students, about how to be respectful of your neighbors and community while still gathering with friends. We can pretend it will go away with a punitive ordinance, but punitive measures alone don't build lasting change. If the student population grows, it will only get worse.


June 27, 2005

Re: Amendments to Santa Cruz Municipal Code Chapter 9.37 Pertaining to Loud or Unruly Gatherings

Dear Santa Cruz City Councilmembers:

First, I would like to thank those of you who took the time to respond to my request and to meet with me last week regarding this issue. I know your time is valuable and I appreciate it very much.

We, as renters, do not have a representative body for the council to communicate with and because of that, I don’t believe that our concerns have been heard on this issue. As members of this community who make our lives here, we deserve a chance to be heard and to contribute to the solution before a hard line ordinance is passed with the idea that “we’ll fix it later.? There are many, many people in this community who contribute to it on a daily basis but who, because of the sheer impossibility of it, cannot afford to buy a home. It doesn’t make us any less valuable or mean that our voices should be heard any less. We care about our neighborhoods and we respect our neighbors. Renters want to live in a safe community, as well.

I agree that the current ordinance should be amended and I also recognize that there is much pressure on the council to pass something as soon as possible. But, I believe that the council can amend the ordinance to truly target those responsible, rather than passing something that is sweepingly punitive to everyone and disproportionately punishes renters over homeowners, particularly because renters are most directly affected by one of the main groups that the council is trying to get at: absentee landlords.

However, this amended ordinance, as it is currently written, disproportionately punishes and disadvantages renters in an already extremely difficult market. The vicarious liability provision, as currently written, does not truly give renters a warning (it is punitive to send your landlord and/or your parents a certified letter) and the landlords will only pass on the cost of the emergency response to their tenants, which could lead to higher rents affecting the rental market as a whole. It is not difficult, I must add, to have the police visit a gathering at your home, especially if you have a neighbor who has a particularly low tolerance for noise, such as I do. So, I am not speaking hypothetically as the police did come to my birthday party just a few weeks ago, even though I had informed all of my neighbors and gave them the phone numbers of all three housemates. Though the party, in my opinion, was neither “loud? nor “unruly,? we did what the officer said and told everyone to move inside and there were no more problems or calls and police did not have to come back. But, under this ordinance, my landlord would now be receiving a certified letter and would probably not renew my lease coming up next month. This, just because I had a party for my 34th birthday?

Additionally, as currently written, this ordinance will make tenants responsible for the citations of the renters before them who may have received a “warning? and/or citation sometime within the entire last year. There isn’t even a mechanism in the ordinance for you to know when you move into a new place if it has already been cited or not. Will this be the landlord’s responsibility to let tenants know? Why would this ordinance make a new renter liable for the previous tenants’ citations?

One thing this ordinance does not do, as currently written, is make any plan for having a public dialog, forum, task force or any other plan for bringing awareness about and responsibility for these issues out of the neighborhoods where people have been suffering from these out of control parties and into the larger community, especially the student community, so that we can all become educated and articulate what is acceptable in our community and what is not. This will help bring lasting change, which will only become more important as the student body grows.

Casting a wide net of punishment is no doubt an efficient way of dealing with a situation such as this, even if it doesn’t necessarily target the offenders and will punish non-offenders. It takes more time to consider the implications on the community as a whole, especially with something so broad. But, considering the implications of this ordinance, particularly on renters, I believe that the council should err on the side of caution and move forward with strengthening the current ordinance, but not in such an extreme and radical way, especially before they have heard from other constituencies on this. If the council takes the time to hear from other interested and affected constituencies, any changes to further strengthen this ordinance will most likely be more effective, as well.

In order to speak directly to the ordinance at hand, I have attached a copy of the ordinance that will have its second reading on Tuesday, June 28, with the changes from the original ordinance noted in highlighted yellow. I have also added my specific concerns and suggestions in bulleted points (in italics and bold) where appropriate.

Thanks once again in advance for your time and consideration on this very important matter.

Re: City Council Unanimously Passes First Reading of “NO PARTY? Ordinance

Why is that that the UC students crowd in here and then play the victim role everytime they are expected to act like human beings. Everyone else is the problem and the pampered little bottoms of the UC student is being oppressed.

Evil or not the students play a role in the ever expanding UC systems dominance of all things Santa Cruz. Now that they are expected to act civil all of a sudden, its all an evil conspiracy of the government and their landlord minions.

I have a really cool landlord. But maybe thats one local to another not a whiney demanding transplant who throws a tantrum and thinks everything should be cattered to their whims.

I haven't argued against rent control.

And frankly yes there wasn't a million capitalist landlords and the like untill a million transplants flooded in here and and started dictating the way things should be. That created a market for all the millions of evil landlords and investment agencies. Of course someone who didn't grow up here wouldn't know that, because they wee things from how they are when they arrived. If you knew the evolution of it you may feel differently about it.

The Uncotrollable Cancer of Santa Cruz known as UCSC has drastically changed the face of Santa Cruz. Especially in the last 10 to 15 years. Even though I've never been a fan of the UCWMD program UCSC wasn't as bad when it was a small pocket college that was out of the way. However it has grown out of control. Coupled with the recent boom before the dot bomb, it really took on grotesque proportions.

Why rent control one of the richest student bodies in the state? Why not take as much advantage of them as they take of Santa Cruz. They have no vested intrest in the long term of the Town. It has really become a party school for a lot of rich kids.

Many of whom take on an activist persona as the best avenue to getting laid.

Re: City Council Unanimously Passes First Reading of “NO PARTY? Ordinance

(Corrected Version)

"Santa Cruz Native" jams many half-truths together to make some useless point to promote harmful divisions.

To answer three of these:

When there is no rent control for students there is no rent control for other locals, native or not.

Likewise, when rights are taken away from renters (those who you perceive to be student trouble makers) those laws are more likely to hurt people without rich parents to bail them out in paying fines and helping them rent a new home, than those of us who are local workers and renters.

As for politics just being an avenue for getting laid, I have not observed this in activists. But if in fact this has worked for people, who can argue with their success?

Will the Ohlone commenters please stand up?

Can you please stop calling yourselves Natives? Hardly. [And growing up with two Native Americans does not give you the right to speak for them]. I'm not asking for anyone's family tree dating back to the gold rush, and I don't want to hear that you're 1/16th Cherokee. I just think a little reality check would be handy when we throw around strange self identifiers that (I am assuming) do not in reality apply to the "long term" residents posting here. Tell me if I'm wrong. Any Ohlone among the "Santa Cruz Natives" and "Bones" etc.?

I can complain about students and mactivists with the best of 'em; but the real problem in this town is an entrenched land owning class who bleeds the community dry with high rents. Period.

There is a lot of infighting in this post, to which I seem to be contributing, but what we really need to do is *know our enemies*, unite as a tenant class, and kick some of these big developers, slumlords, lazy land-Lords outta town.

You wanna complain about transplants? Let's list all the "vacation rental income" properties in town. Let's talk about those who live in San Jose and rent out the house down your street five weeks out of the year while the City gets sued for failing to follow through on its affordable housing committments. Let's find out just how much property Barry Swenson has his fingers in. Let's check into the rental holdings of the Seaside Co. (Boardwalk, etc.).
It really is silly for fourth generation santa cruzans to turn on second generation santa cruzans for driving up rents.

It's even sillier for self professed "natives" to point the finger at "students" as a general group and scapegoat them for all the problems in our town.

I'm sorry to hear that the ordinance passed despite several well-articulated alternatives and serious concerns with the consequences of the City Council's actions.

But then, we already knew who has their ear.

Proud Native, Kiss My Seabright Ass!

danielsan, My friends gave me permission to speak for them, because they will only go on computer at gunpoint..You feel real brave mouthing off behind your computer, don't you? Just because my opinion differs from the typical,and puts some of the right people in their place as part of the problem, tough shit! I paid years of dues in Hawaii and Centro America knowing I'd never be a native. It's good for you! ...I never pointed the finger at students being the sole problem. Now you're showing your narrow mind by saying all natives think the same!...I'm glad the ordinance passed so rude punks of all kinds will have to be accountable for their behavior.... If people hadn't put the rush on this place the land pimps couldn't get away with anything. You're full of shit!

No Locals. No Natives. Just People.

>I paid years of dues in
>Hawaii and Centro America

Umm, let me guess: Behind the barrel of a gun? That's the ultimate in "non-locals" affecting the local quality of life.

What a fucking hypocrite!

...and plankton was around before the Ohlone

and 50th generation Hawaiians. So? I don't care if people like me. Just show some respect. You can learn alot from your adversaries. Did you know Seabright was not part of Santa Cruz until 1922? There were alot more blacks around here before the huge influx of folks with more dough, like most of you? (You don't have to be rich to qualify!) That the word kook comes from the Hawaiian kukai, which means shit? Sometimes you have to be nasty to get people's attention away from the delusional reality they live in, to rationalize their existance here. If there was more respect, there wouldn't be any need for new ordinances!

You're Dreaming

Behind the barrel of a gun? What bullshit! I must be a bad guy, being from here, huh? That's pathetic! You don't know me kook! Talk about something you know about, which isn't me or Santa Cruz, or Hawaii/Centro America. I represented this area in the second most popular salsa band in Centro America, and the top 10% of surfers in the world! Yeah, I was a transplant in Centro America and Hawaii. So? I am a humble haole/gringo, and respect the natives! Not at all like you, pathetic punk!


sometimes i hate this town.

How convenient - ignore 38 comments, post empty reply elsewhere

An empty response has been posted by Mike Rotkin or in Mike Rotkin's name. See

How convenient for Mike Rotkin (if it's him) to step in after the fact with an empty comment about "appropriate training". Too bad he didn't respond to the substantive issues raised in 38 comments on the original story.

Fact: Mike's ordinance makes new occupants pay for the actions of prior occupants. This applies to new tenants as well as new property owners.

Fact: Mike's ordinance uses one phone call as a trigger and leaves the responding officer complete and absolute discretion.* The old arrangement, whereby two separate calls had to come in, was more reasonable. Now, one person with a vendetta can target a tenant or property owner just by making a phone call.

Fact: Mike's ordinance singles out one specific problem (loud parties) and imposes an unspecified, unlimited police response fee, plus 33% administrative overhead. Meanwhile, you can beat up people, damage property, commit hate crimes, do all sorts of malicious things, and the City won't charge you for the police response.

Again, I favor regulation of loud parties, but in a way that respects due process.

* Here's the exact language: "9.37.020. RESPONSE TO LOUD OR UNRULY GATHERINGS ... (a) The OFFICER [my emphasis] has determined that a loud or unruly gathering exists ..."


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