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Foothills Sentry

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Orange ready to get tough on student party houses; hopes Chapman University will help

By Daniel Langhorne Chapman University students

could face harsher punishments for hosting unruly parties, under a proposal recently floated by top Orange city officials. Orange Police Chief Robert Gustafson told the city council on Oct. 13 that he, along with City Manager Rick Otto, recommend that Chapman suspend students if they ignore warnings and cita- tions for throwing parties. The move ignites new discussion of how city staffers and university officials should address the prolif- eration of student-rented houses in local neighborhoods. The council is expected to take

up the issue at a future meeting. Residents in various parts of the

city have long complained about the noise, trash and intoxicated students that often spill into their neighborhoods from student- hosted parties. “I think that will be a far more

effective program than what Chapman has done in the past,” Gustafson said.

Who done it? During the October council meeting, Councilman Mike Alva- rez asked city staffers to investi- gate options to inform Chapman about enforcement actions against repeat-offenders. He also suggest- ed that city hall should look into requiring landlords to report the names of Chapman students leas- ing their properties. “I know what it’s like to have

two to three dozen students actu- ally on my front porch, trying to get hold of Uber to get home,” he said.

However, City Attorney Wayne

Winthers told the council that requiring landlords to share the names of Chapman student rent- ers with the city raises constitu- tionality questions that his office would need to evaluate. “There are definitely some questionable constitutional is- sues when it comes to limiting the number of people who are living in a house,” Winthers said. “There are some cases out there that say, ‘cities, you can’t legislate that.’” Chapman officials did not re-

spond to a request for comment on the proposal. Gustafson acknowledged that

the university has recently taken some steps to punish offending students by issuing fines to those

busted for throwing parties. “I don’t think Chapman has

taken a strident effort yet, but it's made some movement in terms of fining students for having par- ties,” Gustafson said.

Ask Chapman to act Councilman Mark Murphy said

he’d rather encourage good be- havior than punish bad, and looks forward to hearing from Chap- man’s administration regarding the recommendation to suspend students. “This is one of the areas where

we are going to hear from the uni- versity,” Murphy said. “We look forward to working collabora- tively with the university to come up with solutions to address these issues.” While the issue of “town and

gown” remains at the forefront of residents’ minds, the Orange Police Department recently pro- vided the Foothills Sentry with statistics that show a reduction in warnings and municipal code citations issued to Chapman stu- dents hosting parties over the past

three years. Officers responding to a call

about a party at Chapman stu- dents’ houses can give the host a verbal warning regarding the noise, a written warning called a “first response,” or issue a misde- meanor citation for hosting a loud and unruly party.

By the numbers In fall 2012 and spring 2013,

police recorded 183 first respons- es and issued 43 citations. In fall 2013 and spring 2014, the num- ber declined to 168 first responses and 29 citations; and in fall 2014 and spring 2015, police logged 157 responses and 26 citations. However, Orange residents contend that the statistics don’t mirror their experiences. Jane Layton, a longtime Orange resident, has seen the party scene, from Thursday through Tuesday, escalate at the four houses on her street occupied by Chapman stu- dents.

Some weekends, more than 200

college-age adults pack into sin- gle-family homes and backyards,

keeping neighbors awake and dis- gruntled. Beer cans and red cups pepper sidewalks and yards the morning after the festivities.

Suspended agitation Layton is optimistic about the

police chief’s and city manager’s recommendation to suspend stu- dents for hosting numerous parties. “What an incredibly intelli-

gent idea,” Layton said. “Maybe it would finally get the students to behave. However, this would mean the [police] would have to actually cite the parties.” The police department receives

a high volume of party calls dur- ing the beginning of a school year (except during fraternity and so- rority rush week, when alcohol use is not permitted), around Hal- loween, after the Undie Run, and at the end of the school year, said Sgt. Phil McMullin. The party is often not the is-

sue, but actually the loud groups of students walking through the neighborhoods, to and from gath- erings, that cause a disruption, he said.

A softer side “Communication, consistency

and enforcement are the keys to bringing peace to the neighbor- hoods,” McMullin said. “Through our weekly meetings with [Chap- man] Public Safety, our quick re- sponse to citizen complaints, and our enforcement, we have reduced the number of parties over the past three years, and more importantly, the loud and unruly parties.” Harold Hewitt, Chapman’s

chief operating officer and execu- tive vice president, defended the university’s response to parties in an October statement. “Chapman has worked for sev-

eral years with City of Orange of- ficials and with neighbors to ad- dress concerns about student par- ties at private residences in areas surrounding the campus,” Hewitt wrote. “Recently, Chapman offi- cials met again with Chief Gus- tafson and other city officials to consider additional ways to work together, and we look forward to strengthening and continuing this partnership.” Twitter: @DanielLanghorne

Santiago Canyon College Foundation appointed William W. Underwood to its board of directors. The foundation is a registered nonprofit that raises funds to support the college and its students under the leadership of a seven-member board. Un- derwood is a Villa Park resident, and served as managing direc- tor and co-founder of Informa- tion Technology Group, which provides senior-level consultants to statewide higher education organizations and Fortune 500 corporations.

Santiago Canyon College

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