City set to deal with house parties

BY EMILY BUSSE | APRIL 06, 2010 7:30 AM

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Neighbors will have to step up complaints to help combat a potential increase in the number of house parties if the 21-ordinance is passed, Iowa City city councilors said Monday.

Councilors and police officers are predicting an increase in house parties if the 21-ordinance is implemented, they said.

The council will have its final reading on the ordinance during its formal meeting tonight and, if passed, it will be put into effect June 1.

Councilor Mike Wright said residents will have to be more proactive in ending the disruptive parties.

“What the neighbors need to do is report upon it if there is one and not just grumble about it,” Wright said. “I’m surprised when I run into people who don’t. They bend my ear about how bad it was, and I say, ‘Did you call?’ ‘No.’ ”

Councilor Regenia Bailey, who said house parties have been a “chronic problem” in her own neighborhood, said working with neighborhood associations before the possible June implementation date is extremely important.

“[House parties] are a huge impact and a huge imposition on peoples’ lives,” said Bailey, the only councilor opposed to the ordinance.

In her “mixed” neighborhood, loud college students live next door to a family with a 3-year-old child, she said.

To encourage residents to report disruptive parties, Wright suggested neighborhood groups be better educated on reporting, something that could begin within the next two weeks.

Doug Boothroy, the director of Housing and Inspection Services, said he may bring up encouraging calling in complaints at an April 19 North Side Neighborhood Association meeting.

Bailey acknowledged that not all house parties should warrant a complaint and that it’s sometimes important to “live and let live.”

“But if it spikes and becomes rampant, we will have some problems,” she said.

While Iowa City police Capt. Matt Johnson said increased patrolling in the neighborhoods is one way the police plan to combat more house parties, “neighborhoods have got to take it upon themselves to make those calls” if the city continues to rely largely on a complaint-based system.

“Neighborhood involvement isn’t limited to just notifying us of problems,” Johnson said. “Neighborhoods are becoming creative in identifying solutions as well.”

Iowa City Police Chief Sam Hargadine submitted information about how the department deals with house parties to the council.

Another way to counter disruptive off-campus partying could come with the University of Iowa’s help, some councilors said.

Councilor Connie Champion said the “best thing for neighborhoods” would be if the UI was able to get off-campus activities to fall under student disciplinary policies.

Including house parties in the UI’s Code of Conduct “will make a huge difference,” Wright said.

Though Mayor Matt Hayek said he wasn’t sure if university discipline would have a large effect, “it makes sense.”

“But it is going to rely heavily on the neighborhoods,” he said.

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