March 2016

Chapman backs party house crack down plans

By Daniel Langhorne 

Chapman University’s administration supports extraordinary changes to an Orange party ordinance proposed by city staffers, signaling a change in strategy to not only crack down on students who host unruly parties, but also those who attend. 

Orange City Manager Rick Otto and City Attorney Wayne Winthers presented the city council with a menu of options at its February meeting. The options addressed residents’ complaints that single-family neighborhoods are changing into dorm housing. 

The council unanimously voted to consider two major changes to the city’s party ordinance. The first would permit Orange police officers to issue misdemeanor citations to anyone who attends an unruly party. The second would crack down harshly on students who repeatedly host unruly par- ties throughout the school year. 

Currently, students who have the police called to their residence more than once in a 10-day period can receive a misdemeanor. The council will reconsider changing that timeframe to once a year, ending on July 1 or 31. Essentially, a misdemeanor citation would be issued to any student who hosts more than one unruly party in the same academic year. 

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“I do think it makes perfect sense to cite guests at the parties, and not just the hosts,” Mayor Tita Smith said. 

Jack Raubolt, vice president of community relations, told the Sentry that the university sup- ports efforts by the city council and staff to make these changes to the party ordinance after the February council meeting. Chapman hired Raubolt in January to act as a community liaison, responding to neighbors’ complaints about university-related nuisances. 

Although these changes to the party ordinance are targeted at Chapman students’ parties, all Orange residents would be subject to the proposed changes. 

Police Chief Robert Gustafson reported to the Chapman Neighborhood Advisory Committee in January that from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2015, there were 314 calls to the police department regarding unruly parties. Out of these calls, Chapman students could be identified as the hosts of 58 parties. 

Fun for all 

Councilman Mark Murphy said he was surprised by these figures, but still supported the proposed changes to the party ordinance.

“Hopefully, the measures we are taking here will also address parties unrelated to Chapman,” Murphy said.

In a reflective moment, Smith summed up the quandary the city faces with an influx of college students in single-family homes and Chapman’s role as an economic engine for the city. “There is an economic  vitality  that  has  also come to our city and our neighborhoods because of the presence of  Chapman  University,”  she said. “It doesn’t make it OK that you can’t sleep at night in a party neighborhood, it doesn’t.”

When  Smith  started  working on preserving the Old Towne Historic District in the early 1980s, she never imagined that supporting Chapman’s development as a planning commissioner and city councilwoman would give rise to the problems the city now faces.

Who knew?

“There were unforeseen consequences,” Smith said.  “It never occurred  to  me  that  the  growth of Chapman and saying ‘yes’ to education was going to be a problem for the beautiful residential neighborhood of Old Towne, which many of us have worked so hard to preserve.”

Josh Nudelman, president of  Chapman’s student government association, declined to say whether or not he thinks the proposed changes to the party ordinances are reasonable, claiming he wants to survey students before sharing an opinion.

Although  student  government representatives  have  attended  a few  city  council  meetings,  they have  yet  to  advocate  on  behalf of students. Nudelman said the student government association’s senate  is  considering  requiring him and his successors to attend council  meetings  when  Chapman-related topics are discussed.

“I look forward to seeing what happens with this university,” he said. “I want it to grow. This is a time when students will have to meet neighbors halfway, and they will have to change some aspects of their life.”