Eugene seeks to control wild University of Oregon parties

EUGENE, Ore. — The Eugene City Council is taking another look at an ordinance that would give authorities the power to fine people who throw excessively wild parties.

The rules would apply throughout Eugene, but the push for it comes from parties near the University of Oregon. Fall classes begin Monday at the university where much of “Animal House” was filmed.

Noise, disorderly conduct and alcohol-related violations in the four neighborhoods around the university increased 55 percent from 2006 to 2010, and it’s affecting the quality of life, said Michael Kinnison, the city’s neighborhood program manager.

The ordinance coming before the council Oct. 10 targets the host rather than the guests. To run afoul of the law, a person would have to host a gathering in which alcohol is served and police witness at least two infractions — such as public urination, excessive noise or disorderly conduct.

The council got their first look at the ordinance in April and expressed concern about how the city would define the host of a party. Is it everybody on the lease? Is it the guy at the door? Is it the person everybody points to?

City officials sought to fix that by adding a definition of a party host as someone who invites or receives people to a social gathering “on property of which one has control as owner, lessee, tenant or licensee.”

A first-time offense for hosting a wild party would lead to a base fine that has yet to be determined by Municipal Court officials. Residents cited additional times would face increasing penalties, which also have yet to be determined.

Carter Hawley, a police analyst for the city, told The Register-Guard that the fines will likely be determined before the council reviews the revised ordinance next month.

If a host throws a party that becomes uncontrollable, he or she can avoid a fine by calling police to break it up, the ordinance states.

“We want voluntary compliance” Hawley said. “So we want to give them every incentive for that to be first in their minds.”

If residents were cited for uncontrolled parties four times within 12 months, they and the property owner would be charged for the police response, under the draft.

Jim Straub, president of the Lane County Rental Owners Association, said the period of a tenant’s occupancy, not 12 months, should determine whether landlords are charged for the cost of police response, and he will ask the council to make that change.

Tenants repeatedly cited under the social host ordinance might be evicted before 12 months were up, Straub said. The new tenants who move in could then have an unruly party, which, under the current draft, would trigger the landlord being charged for the cost of police response.

“Other than that, I can see the need for the ordinance,” Straub said.

“I hope it will accomplish what they hope it will accomplish.”

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