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Hosts of Loud Parties to Pay for Multiple Police Visits

Sheriff's deputies can now pass the cost of multiple visits to loud parties onto the party's host in Mission Viejo. Patch file photo
Sheriff's deputies can now pass the cost of multiple visits to loud parties onto the party's host in Mission Viejo. Patch file photo
Soon if you throw a loud party in Mission Viejo that deputies respond to more than once, you will be paying for your next police visit.

In a split vote, the City Council agreed Monday to pass the cost of multiple police visits to loud parties onto the offending party's host. The ordinance will take effect in 30 days.

Here's how it will work: When deputies break up a party, they will give the host a warning. That warning will explain that if deputies arrive again within 12 hours, the host will have to pay the cost of their return visit.

It could mean an extremely expensive bill if the next visit requires helicopters or police dogs, City Attorney Bill Curley said.

He said it's legally defensible because the new ordinance is civil in nature—not criminal.

Councilman Dave Leckness, who voted against the ordinance, said he would prefer the host receive a citation rather than a bill for police service.

Making a citation would confuse an officer's role as enforcer of the law with a crime witnesses's role as complainant, the city attorney said. By issuing the host a penalty rather than a citation, Curley says this ordinance sidesteps this potentially unconstitutional problem.

Councilwoman Trish Kelley, who proposed the law, said it will be a deterrent to bad behavior that will free police to fight more serious crime.

"One way to deter behavior is to provide a financial penalty," she said. "Do we want our police officers to have to go back to parties more than one time when somebody could be breaking into my house?"

Here's part of the Monday exchange:

Kelley: "The reason I like to ask for the costs we're providing is it's cost recovery. We're not fining. If we bring in a helicopter or a dog, this is all additional—"

Leckness (interrupting): "You think that would be OK to send them a bill for a helicopter?—"

Kelley (interrupting): "I think you're blowing things out of proportion. I don't think deputies call in the helicopters just for the fun of it."

Captain Chris Wilson: "We would go out to Coto (de Caza) for huge parties that had to be broken up. Sometimes it's by air… and we're throwing a lot of resources just to break up a gathering, a large gathering of people."

In July, Police Chief Wilson counted 94 police calls to confront noisy neighbors and loud parties. Of those, 22 were broken up on the first visit. During another 14 calls, deputies had to make return visits. Three of those were to the same residence in one night, Wilson said.

He said the ordinance would be welcomed by police:

"It's just another tool. We carry anywhere from 40-50 extra bullets on our belts. Twenty years as a peace officer, I've never had to use one, but deputies out on a Friday, Saturday night, they would appreciate having that tool because they have a feeling, is this three or four people out on the patio being too loud for their neighbors, or are the streets lined with cars?"

"Thousands of calls a month and we're talking about 14 calls," Leckness said.

"When you have no other choice, this would be a tool," Wilson said. "Just like when you want to come out of your car, without your hands up, I may have to use one of those 45 bullets."

Kelley said the ordinance provides an appeal if a host feels he or she has been wrongly billed.

Councilwoman Cathy Schlicht, who also voted against the ordinance, said it was unconstitutionally vague.

"What is too loud?" she said. "The standard would vary from officer to officer or partier to partier. I'm concerned that this is skirting around the constitution. Without defined standards, it's unconstitutional."

As a civil procedure, not a criminal one, the law doesn't have to have the burden of proof the Constitution requires, Curley said.

Councilman Frank Ury said a similar law could have allowed the county to pursue the cost of rescuing two hikers lost last spring in Trabuco Canyon. One of those hikers later admitted to possessing methamphetamines.

He said the county tried and failed to charge the hikers for the rescue costs.

"Guess what, they couldn't do it," Ury said. "Why? Because they didn't have something like this in place."
Shripathi Kamath August 20, 2013 at 07:30 AM
"Just like when you want to come out of your car, without your hands up, I may have to use one of those 45 bullets." Say what? I am staying in the car!
Panglonymous August 20, 2013 at 10:25 AM
A party that has to be warned is a bad party. Deputies should carry a rolled-up newspaper on their belt so that the party knows the deputy means business. A party that has to be warned more than once is a very bad party and should be swatted on the snout with the newspaper baton. A party that must be broken up is beyond bad and should have a fire hose turned on it forthwith.
Panglonymous August 20, 2013 at 10:26 AM
These are like the 46th and 47th bullets on the belt that nobody wants to use but are effective with incorrigible mutts.
Panglonymous August 20, 2013 at 10:26 AM
p.s. If you are not from South County beware: it will often play good party/bad party on your ass. Cleave to the good party and give the bad party a day spa pass.
Shripathi Kamath August 20, 2013 at 10:37 AM
Brother Pan, we need to hang out more at Coto, it'd seem. Say Pete, what's the address of the place where cops had to go three times the same night?
Shripathi Kamath August 20, 2013 at 10:41 AM
So Ms. Schlicht would have us believe that not knowing how loud is loud is unconstitutional, but banning a sex offender who has already served her time from a park is not?
Mediator August 20, 2013 at 11:22 AM
This type of restriction or subjective policing reminds me of something I witnessed in Cuba in 2008. While visiting the neighborhoods I saw a few people dressed up and hanging around outside a residence building. I asked them what they were all dressed up for and they explained that there was a celebration at one of the 3rd floor residences home but that they, by the government, were not allowed to have more than a certain number of people gathering in one place. Hum, maybe we can provide a number of people for this new ordinance, I mean we wouldn't want subjective measures to begin to trample on our rights?
Mediator August 20, 2013 at 11:23 AM
Opps, I forgot the people got around this restriction by having a few come down and a few come up exchanging allowed them to participate without breaking the rule.
Panglonymous August 20, 2013 at 11:28 AM
Indeed, Brother Shri, we might learn something. In Long Beach, we prefer to start with the punishment. This give us reason to celebrate which often gets out of control. Which requires more punishment. And so on...
Shripathi Kamath August 20, 2013 at 11:28 AM
Tough one, Mediator. Surely if you are not invited to the party next door, and it got noisy at 2 AM, you'd call the cops, won't you? Particularly if you have to get to work and the noise is just loud. It is not as if you'd measure the decibels, wait for the meter to trip a Sharapova shriek to call, would you? If the cops have to come repeatedly, would you not want them to do something? I can empathize with the seemingly swift financial penalty, but calling it a trampling of right ala Cuba is hyperbole territory. ________________________________________________________ But let's back up and explore this. It almost certainly is a problem (my guess is with one or three residences) and despite warnings they do not comply. What measures under existing law would you suggest be used that the cops have not tried? If you do not like this new ordinance, but have a different suggestion, what might you suggest?
Panglonymous August 20, 2013 at 11:41 AM
In Seal Beach, they bitch about vacation renters. At least these are your permanent neighbors being bad?
PJ August 20, 2013 at 12:05 PM
My neighbors called the cops because they felt that my sons two year birthday party was too loud at 6:30pm. When I laughed after hearing the complaint, and suggested that the officers have a conversation with my neighbor about wasting police resources, one officer threatened me with a hefty ticket, and possible arrest, if they had to come back. I was pretty sure that they didn't have the authority to do either at 6:30pm, but what the police can do (authorized, or otherwise) never ceases to surprise me, so I didn't push my luck. If the police already have the "tools" of ticketing, and arresting, what is the point of another? If they don't have those tools, they have the tool of lying about those tools, which worked to keep two year olds from partying past 6:30. Can I be ticketed, arrested, AND have to pay for the cops to do it? Or do I just have to give the officers gas money if they come back?
Dan Avery August 20, 2013 at 12:16 PM
Our neighbors called the cops on the party we threw for my in-laws 40th anniversary. People will call the cops for whatever annoys them.
Dan Avery August 20, 2013 at 12:19 PM
Notice, also, that we're not talking about a domestic violence call. No that behavior is just fine with our counsel, presumably. Heck cops can go to the same house four or five times a night while some jerk beats the snot out of his wife. What do we care? But parties? Fun? Shut it down.
Rudy Padrol August 20, 2013 at 01:29 PM
What happens to the uncollected debt after the partiers fail to pay? Who's responsible the homeowner, or the host?
Panglonymous August 20, 2013 at 02:16 PM
I have an instance to relate, apples versus oranges, maybe, but still in the farmers' market. ¶ A Mexican family bought a ten-unit apartment house in our neighborhood, which is mixed multi-family/single-family properties. The Mexican family filled the ten units with family members; a family compound of sorts. The family ranged in age from infinks to old folks. This is the kind of environment I grew up in and it appealed to me and my family. ¶ Anyhow, they had fiestas for birthdays, holidays, etcetera, quite often and on the weekends. They usually had live, unamplified mariachi music, played on the sidewalk, for entertainment. They sang, and laughed, and whooped and aieeeee'd, they ate and drank and danced, as a family, as a group, on the street - there was no internal courtyard, there was no complex commons. ¶ This usually started in the afternoon with the young and old included. As the evening wore on, it became adulter, and louder and drunker - but not threatening in any way. They were clearly having a blast. It continued until after midnight after which they would usually take it inside. ¶ Well, not everyone grew up like me, and there were many who didn't like it. The complaint that startled me most was: "I can't hear my TV." Eh? Eh?? ¶ Now, I had my limits and here they were: When the parties became weekly and it became apparent that they were hosting parties commercially, we asked them to stop that and they did. When the parties continued after 2 a.m. on the weekend (if they were still loud enough for us to be aware of) we asked them to chill and they did. ¶ But,,, they were radiating LIFE on the neighborhood, and I did not want them to stop. Plus,,, I wanted the same license I was allowing them when I, my family and friends would 'blow it out' as we had far less often but regularly over the years. This license to celebrate - with the definite possibility that behavior might become unpredictable, perhaps (on occasion) even genuinely ASTOUNDING - is essential and should not be blithely abridged. ¶ Well, hell, the years passed, the neighborhood steadily 'improved', and those with my outlook were in the decided minority. ¶ Slowly, steadily, guided by complaints, they became more and more like 'us', until now they are barely distinguishable. ¶ And the neighborhood is quiet, passive and dull. Quite amenable to tV. And stuff.
cary August 20, 2013 at 02:34 PM
People need to lighten up! If a neighbor has ONE party and it's loud who cares. If every day, it's another story.
Eileen G. August 20, 2013 at 02:58 PM
So.... you can call the cops if your neighbors are having a loud party and if they come back they can hit you with a hefty fine. What about annoying DOGS. I have 6 homes that line my property and they all have dogs ... I do not. They bark at me when I'm in my yard, they bark at me when I'm bar-b-queuing, they bark at each other.... at all times of day and night. But to get them to be fined I have to find other neighbors that will complain about them also. Something is wrong here. Regarding the loud parties we have a party at least once a year with live music. Many years ago there was a complaint the officers showed up and told us that we needed to keep it down, and if they showed up again the homeowner could be arrested. It was 8:30 at night. From that point forward we papered the neighborhood with flyers stating we were having a party that there would be music and a lot of cars. We also posted a start and end time on this notice and our phone number if they had a problem. Only one time did someone ever call us, it was 11:10pm and they complained that the notice said music would stop at 11. As soon as the band finished that song we were done. We had neighbors appreciate that we have done that.
KC August 20, 2013 at 06:40 PM
I wonder if we will start seeing amped up responses to parties? Since the department would be paid for it, they might decide to send extra forces. Also, what happens if the host of the party cannot be identified or located?
S Belle August 20, 2013 at 07:35 PM
Totally agree, Eileen Gonzalez. I suppose you can complain to Animal Control. But why is it okay to complain about the occasional noisy party and make the perpetrators foot the bill for repeat police visits, gripe about barking canines, but is perfectly acceptable to subject me to incessant "Marco Polo" from my neighbor's pools (plural!) from dawn to dusk? I'd take one or two noisy parties per year or barking dogs over the constant sounds of kids screaming. Who is in charge of that enforcement? In either case, if I do not like it I can always move to Wyoming and live on the prairie, I know I know.
Shripathi Kamath August 20, 2013 at 09:21 PM
Wyoming? Now that's just crazy talk. Equatorial New Guinea is the "it" place, and if you play your cards rights, they'll let you represent them in the Olympics. (I hear you, over that barking mutt next door)
Debra August 21, 2013 at 09:05 PM
Why was my comment removed? It was no different than anyone elses here?
David L. Rukstalis Jr August 21, 2013 at 11:26 PM
Regarding "Hosts of loud parties. . . ." Helicopters? Really? Is this Mission Viejo, Egypt? Did the City Attorney really say, "Making a citation would confuse an officer's role as enforcer of the law with a crime witnesses role as complainant, . . ." Really? Really? I grew up inission Viejo and I am an attorney and I challenge anyone to explain what yhe above statement means. Surely not as an argument against police issuing citations. Anyone out there ever hear of a police officer confused regarding issuing a citation as ". .enforcer of the law, with a crime witnesses role as complainant?" Officers issue citations daily and it only helps the government's case if there is a complaining witness.
Dan Avery August 22, 2013 at 12:21 PM
Okay, we've gone from parties to barking dogs and children playing Marco Polo. See? People will call the police over whatever annoys them, except no one has mentioned the neighbor who beats the snot out of his wife, but me. I find that curious. But then not really. Watch this: http://bit.ly/14ZYddc
Panglonymous August 22, 2013 at 01:37 PM
Debra, is this the one? It was over in a different thread... ____________________________________________________ Debra Porter Twardowski August 21, 2013 at 11:34 AM I have to jump in regarding dogs versus the parties. We have neighbors with multiple dogs on several sides of us, one family 4 dogs, and for YEARS we have lost all enjoyment of our patio and yard, OR opening windows. People have parties, and there have been parties that need police to calm them down, however, the bigger issue is the constant noise level of Mission Viejo. We also suffer from LOW flying plans that buzz around the valley SO low we can read their registration numbers. There's also general noise from swimming pools, and unsupervised children. I never lived in a city this noisy and we once lived in Los Angeles off Barham blvd. And THAT was quieter. Forget parties and change DOG rules and fine those people, along with getting the FAA involved in this buzzing around the valley in low flying planes owned by rich people who can annoy the everyday man. Parties??? pfft. 1 Recommend

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