Archive for Saturday, March 11, 2006

Sound and fury over noise law

March 11, 2006


Police and prosecutors are getting tough on Lawrence party houses and other noise ordinance violators.

Maybe too tough, a representative of the Kansas University chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union told a group of city, KU and neighborhood leaders Friday.

"I think students are worried that we are perhaps being treated unfairly," said Justin LaMort, president of the KU ACLU.

But neighbors and city leaders aren't necessarily buying it. Police Chief Ron Olin estimated that "99.9 percent" of the time, a noise ordinance violator had received a warning at some point before being issued a ticket.

"We almost always ask for voluntary compliance," Olin said. "It frees up the officer's time, the court's time and it is just generally better for the community."

But the city prosecutor confirmed there had been an increase in the number of noise ordinance or disturbing-the-peace violations. Prosecutor Jerry Little said his office had usually handled three or four violations per week, but he estimated that the number had grown to 10 to 15 per week.

And Little said the Municipal Court judge had recently handed down some eye-opening sentences. He said a two-time noise ordinance offender had been sentenced to two days in jail and a $200 fine. Some first-time offenders have been given a fine of as much as $300.

"When the judge hears from the complaining party and hears that they're kept awake all night and that it happens fairly regularly, that seems to weigh pretty heavily on him," Little said.

Candice Davis, a board member of the Oread Neighborhood Assn., left, addresses Justin LaMort, president of the Kansas University chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, about city noise ordinance violations during a meeting at City Hall. City, KU and neighborhood leaders met Friday to discuss the ordinance and an increase in the number of violations.

Candice Davis, a board member of the Oread Neighborhood Assn., left, addresses Justin LaMort, president of the Kansas University chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, about city noise ordinance violations during a meeting at City Hall. City, KU and neighborhood leaders met Friday to discuss the ordinance and an increase in the number of violations.

Olin said part of the reason for the increase in the number of tickets was a change in prosecuting policy that no longer required the complaining neighbor to fill out a police report to have a ticket issued.

The other reason for the increase was that the police department had started recording the locations where it had given occupants a warning. If a police officer had to return to the same house within a few days, the officer would be less likely to give a warning the second time.

Requiring a warning

Neighbors said they appreciated the changes that police and prosecutors had made.

"You know, we have civil liberties, too," said Candice Davis, a member of the Oread Neighborhood Assn.

But LaMort said he thought the city's noise ordinance was too subjective.

"Right now, everything depends on the attitude of the police officer," said LaMort, who said he had received a noise ordinance ticket without receiving a warning.

He said the ordinance should include a provision that a warning must be given before a ticket could be issued, though he didn't specify whether it must be one warning per day or in a period of time.

If city commissioners don't agree to that language, LaMort wanted a requirement of a certain decibel level set as a "do not exceed" limit. Police officers would then be required to use sound-measuring equipment to determine if a party had violated the ordinance.

Olin said he didn't think equipping officers with sound-measuring equipment would be feasible because the readings from the equipment could likely be challenged in court.

LaMort said he knew of about 10 other communities that used a similar system.

Mayor Boog Highberger told meeting participants that he wanted staff members to look into ways to make the ordinance more objective but didn't want to do anything that would hurt the enforceability of the ordinance.

Off-campus behavior

In related news, the mayor and neighbors also met with KU leaders to discuss ideas on how the university could become more involved in influencing positive off-campus behavior by its students.

Lawrence landlord Serina Hearn has been asking KU to adopt a program like other schools in which students could face disciplinary actions from the university for off-campus violations.

Hearn specifically pointed to the University of Vermont, where school administrators use disciplinary means ranging from a stern letter when students have violated particular city ordinances to expulsion for repeated violations.

Brogan Conklin, 22, a Kansas University senior from Topeka, enjoys a sandwich as friends gather on the porch Friday afternoon in the 1400 block of Tennessee Street. The city has been cracking down recently on noise-ordinance violators, and some KU students say they're being treated unfairly.

Brogan Conklin, 22, a Kansas University senior from Topeka, enjoys a sandwich as friends gather on the porch Friday afternoon in the 1400 block of Tennessee Street. The city has been cracking down recently on noise-ordinance violators, and some KU students say they're being treated unfairly.

The university also has an extensive community orientation and outreach program that students go through before living off campus.

KU leaders said they would gladly review the program, but noted that they had added a section on being a good neighbor to their evaluation program.

But KU Provost David Shulenburger said the university wouldn't do anything that would violate a student's due process to law.

"We categorically can't be the police," Shulenburger said. "We can't take away rights from students for activities that happen off campus."

Highberger asked the university, student leaders and neighborhood leaders to meet and review the program at Vermont and other schools.

"I think the city has done about all it can do on its own," Highberger said. "I think the next steps need to be university-led."


Kaw Pickinton 12 years, 1 month ago

Just let the poor kid finish his sandwich! How loud could that be?

DaREEKKU 12 years, 1 month ago

It's nice to see that so many rational people realize that us students are an important bloodline of life into this community and actually have respect for us. Thanks!!!

delta77 12 years, 1 month ago

OldEnuf, I'm glad you think that missing the point of my post and talking down to me makes you feel better. It doesn't negate the validity of my opinions, though.

honkytonkbadonkadonk 12 years, 1 month ago

so thats 1416 tennessee st. right? lets parrrrtay baby! <3

jhawkmom 12 years, 1 month ago

I have a feeling that a lot of these complaints are from formerly single family neighborhoods like mine in west Lawrence. Now that developers have decided to move the students out here, the noise, trash, parking is a problem.

I try to work with my student neighbors. I remember what it was like in college. I don't call the cops the first, second or even third time. But if they don't respond, I have no choice. I moved out here so I wasn't in party central. They've just moved the party.

law 12 years, 1 month ago

Being an Ex- LPD officer and now practicing civil law I can tell you that its not the officer, its the supervision.

Rick Aldrich 12 years, 1 month ago

I say only--------------------SHUT UP or PAY UP.

Harry_Manback 12 years, 1 month ago

Also, I just wanted to add that mostly what I was trying to say is that it's unfair to say that ALL KU students are horrible and disrespectful, blah, blah blah like some of you were saying. That's simply not the case.

There are a lot of a-hole students who think they can do whatever they want, and then I end up waking up the next day to go to work and finding puke, beer, etc. poured on my car every Sat. But for every person like that, there are five more other students who are pissed off by that one person.

It's unfortunate, but it usually takes a least a yearof living here to find the good spots (where you aren't going to be waking up to find this stuff every morning), but in my opinion it's a lot easier to just find a new place to live than to try to fight it, that is if you're just renting. You'll never find peace and quiet somewhere like Jefferson Commons (or whatever it's called now) or in Oread. That's just how it is.

Harry_Manback 12 years, 1 month ago

Okay, so as students we're expected to respect the community, but that is kind of hard when the community doesn't give you much respect. As to the comments about, "you are children" from dad and others, that's ridiculous. I am 21, I work at a professional job and go to school full time. Some of my friends and I have more responsibilies than some adults we know. I resent being called a little child.

Maybe there are some students who are nuisances, but in my 3.5 years here I have never received noise complaints or probably ever caused enough noise to warrant one. It's unfair to categorize KU students as causing all the trouble because a lot of the time it's people our age who aren't even in school.

You are an idiot if you move into the student neighborhoods expecting peace and quiet. That's why I don't live there. I value my peace and quiet just as much as older people, and I've had to deal with annoying neighbors, some who were students and some who weren't.

You know when I have a problem with my neighbors being noisy, guess what I do? I knock on their door and tell them to please be quiet. It's called MATURITY and COURTESY, something you accuse us students of not having, but immediately expecting the cops to solve all your problems isn't exactly being a great neighbor either, now is it?

fletch 12 years, 1 month ago

By far my biggest complaint with these arguments is the whole sleep issue. What a completely arbitrary judgement call. When do you go to sleep? 8? 9? 10? Midnight? 2? Does your sleep schedule get to affect other people's behaviors? And if so, can I get in on that. I work in the afternoons and evenings. Thus, I stay up later and sleep in later. It makes it really impossible for me to sleep when my neighbor wakes up at 7AM and makes noise when he's getting ready to go to work. He needs to be more respectful of my sleep habits. I really should start calling the cops on him for noise violations. He has the gall to listen to the radio in the shower with his window open on some days. How am I possibly going to sleep with all that talk radio gibberish going on across the lawn from my window. Doesn't he know that I'm a working stiff who needs his sleep to do well at his job. I can't be slacking off at work because he had the nerve to listen to open a window.

If you really want your neighbors to stop beind loud, do the "adult" thing and go talk to them. The childish way out is to anonymously call the cops.

Bill Smith 12 years, 1 month ago

It seems that a lot of people in Lawrence forget that this has been a University town since 1866. It should be expected that if you plan to live near the campus that there is going to be some partying going on, there is going to be noise, there is going to be traffic, and there are going to be students! Students do bring in a lot of dollars to this community and to the University. Give them a break!

Start fining the parents for not teaching their students common sense respect for others.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 12 years, 1 month ago

When I was young and wild, we used to party at an area at Pomona lake that was banned to camping, but the rangers looked the other way, because when we left the area, even all the cigerette butts were picked up. After we got older and stopped going there, the next group of young people went in and left the place trashed. If they had been respectful they could have kept a great party place. They just couldn't understand why the rangers were picking on them. Respect goes a long way, especially when you have neighbors.

Confrontation 12 years, 1 month ago

Delta"I want you to keep your little kids in a cage, so I don't have to hear them running around screaming outside while I'm trying to nap, or crying while I'm trying to watch a movie or on an airplane. I don't like having to drive slowly just because you decided to have kids and they're too stupid to know not to run into the street."

I've got to agree with you on this one. My neighbors have two annoying brats who are outside screaming very early in the morning. Between them and their damn dog, I rarely have any peace. They are far worse than any college students I've lived next to. Yes, having kids is a lifestyle choice.

mefirst 12 years, 1 month ago

Wholeheartedly agree with Dad and Benny.

Want to be treated like the adults you claim to be??? How 'bout starting by cleaning up the trash you leave behind after your parties?

I cannot ever, ever, ever be convinced that the KU student is oppressed. Actually, the very thought makes me laugh out loud!

Bubarubu 12 years, 1 month ago

I live in a student neighborhood in W. Lawrence. The guys next door (3 in the unit, plus lots of regular visitors) are great neighbors. The one night, shortly after we moved in, that they were loud for a long time, I went out and asked them to quiet down, and they did immediately. They apologized, they were friendly, and we haven't had a problem since. Not once.

Across the street is a different story. Parties almost every weekend that go until 4 AM. The music is constant, the yelling is constant, the guests decide that my driveway is their driveway. Trash in my yard every Sunday morning. I've asked them to keep it down, both during the parties and during the week when I see them. Never happens. Never changes. No consideration, no respect. After half a dozen requests, I started calling the cops. I don't call before 1 AM, I don't call everytime I hear a party. I call when the noise is absurdly loud. I call when partiers wander into my yard to smoke because the music is too loud at the party they're attending. Guess what? I sleep better on the weekends now. I don't care that my neighbors have parties. I care when their parties ensure that I can't get to sleep at night.

delta77 12 years, 1 month ago

Those of you who are older or who have families automatically expect everyone to conform to your lifestyle. Yes, there are some people of every age who show no respect to anyone. But really this is about different lifestyles. So you want "quiet time" after 9PM on a Friday night. That's fine... everyone wants things.

I want you to keep your little kids in a cage, so I don't have to hear them running around screaming outside while I'm trying to nap, or crying while I'm trying to watch a movie or on an airplane. I don't like having to drive slowly just because you decided to have kids and they're too stupid to know not to run into the street.

I'm not saying this to be a jerk, I'm saying this because we have different lifestyles, and I resent your lifestyle just as much as you resent mine. When I have kids someday, I'm not going to decide to live in a neighborhood right next to a University, with a bunch of college students and then complain about the noise.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 12 years, 1 month ago

I've posted this before, but I'll re-state it:

Long ago I learned that being nice doesn't pay. Not ONE time have I had someone say they will turn it down and they actually did it. Then, if you call the cops, they know it was you and you have angry drunk college boys banging on your door wanting to kick your a**.

If you have neighbors who have loud parties, just call the cops. They know they are being loud. They really just don't care about you. So, just CALL THE COPS ON THE FIRST OFFENSE. When you fight a bully, you must make sure the first punch you throw is a solid blow so they know you are not kidding.

DaREEKKU 12 years, 1 month ago

THANK YOU janniebull!!!! As a student, I'M TIRED OF BEING CRAPPED ON! We are used for cheap labor, charged more rent, automatically screwed out of our deposits (even though SOME of us leave an apt in move in ready condition) and constantly get badgered. We aren't children! How about we adopt a "supervisor/babysitter" policy for all those peoples' employers? How would THAT sound? Leave us alone...

Steve Jacob 12 years, 1 month ago

KU students do get "crapped on" alot. But this is a losing battle. I would guess the police would tell you how many assults/rapes have hapened at a party AFTER they have been to the house once for a waringing on noise.

They the next day, right here, people will write "The police knew it was a loud party, and ONLY gave them a warning!"

outdoor55 12 years, 1 month ago

I graduated from KU about three years ago and moved back to Lawrence a year ago. As a working, not student, member of the community I support the current actions of the city of Lawrence. Right on Benny!! If you want to be treated like an adult, start acting like one.

jayhawks71 12 years, 1 month ago

The complaining neighbor SHOULD be required to sign a complaint. First, this would reduce frivolous "irritated at anything" neigbhor claims of noisiness. The neighbor should ALSO have to appear in court for the same reason. Sorry, that is the system that we have.

There is a difference between a police officer giving you a ticket (without a complaintant) for a driving violation. Driving is not a right protected by our constitution; the right to property is...YOUR property. In the case of noise, no one is being harmed OR placed in imminent danger of harm.

HighScore 12 years, 1 month ago

I would be curious to know in what areas these noise complaints are taking place. Are we talking about the Oread Hill area of Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee or are we talking about an area in west Lawrence? The article mentioned a home on the 1400 block of Tennessee, but is this typical of all the noise complaints being addressed?

With the rapid builiding of apartment complexes in west Lawrence, it seems that less students want to live in the Oread Hill area. Homes in the Oread Hill area are being bought and turned back into single family homes. This issue needs to be addressed because this seems to be a major trend in that area and may only get worse before it gets better.

true_patriot 12 years, 1 month ago

Let's face it, you're either the kind that cares about how your behavior affects those around you or you don't at any point in your life (also varies some with the situation). It doesn't have anything to do with being good or bad. Some of us were extremely obnoxious at that age, but we weren't bad people, we just didn't give a sh*t about anybody else but ourselves (and though children were "stupid" for vulnerable just like we were at that age). I made comments like that from time to time.

We start out as infants infinitely self-centered and progress throughout life to various points of less self-centeredness (with any luck). By college age, there is a huge variation in how self-centered people are. Some adults never progress beyond strongly selfish viewpoints their entire lives.

The only thing i don't like about the current practice is that it is subjective not only in terms of the officer but also the complaining party. If the system allows a scenario where someone could call in a complaint or a string of complaints for non-absurd sound levels in a student ghetto and have someone thrown in jail without some sort of sound measurement to corroborate it, i don't like the idea of it. It's a reflection of the fascist-leaning tendencies at the federal level - that the ends justifies the means and that the basic ideas of due process and checks on authority can be blithely discarded.

On the other hand, for the situation described above where the students across the street in a residential neighborhood ignore all pleas and blast music 'til 4 am and people wander through the yard smoking, pissing, whatever, action strong enough to pierce their veil of self-centeredness needs to be taken until they either decide to participate to a reasonably harmonious degree in the neighborhood dynamics or the parents yank the silver spoons from their mouths because they tire of bailing them out of jail, paying fines, failing grades, etc.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 12 years, 1 month ago

Delta, you lack sense.

The context here is a discussion about the behavior of adults. You come back with examples of how little children behave and call that a "lifestyle". You are complaining that we should all keep our children from crying on airplanes?! You should have had someone proof-read your work before posting that crap. Without children, the human race will perish. However, no one ever died for a lack of partying. Your partying is not a lifestyle, it's a choice. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR CHOICES, and keep your noise in your own home.

You are the posterchild for exactly what is being discussed here: selfish people who think that their rude behavior is some sort of right of passage because, as we all know, college students MUST party or they will all suffer unspeakable consequenses.

Your type simply have no manners, no care for anyone but themselves. It's a character issue, son. If you are fortunate, you will grow out of it in about 10 years. By then, the birth of YOUR children will have forced you to deal with your own self-centered, childish tendancies. Only your driver's license says you are an adult. Your post says you are a boy.

Good Luck.

Richard Heckler 12 years, 1 month ago

It's all about respect for each other. College party hounds need to understand that families go to work in the AM,perhaps have children, may be elderly, when possible like to open windows etc etc. If they want to smoke reefer,sip wine,play music and party down fine but don't share it with the neighborhood. Clean up.

Homeowners could approach new tenants and express their attitudes toward late night parties and perhaps agree to a time say at 9PM or 10 PM to turn it down and maybe take it inside. All of this could be applied to bands as well. Bands could set practice times to meet with neighbors requests.

Otherwise expect visits from law enforcement. Why not work together and have fun. Why would anyone want a visit from the cops?

davolji 12 years, 1 month ago

I am a student and don't feel I get crapped on. I have respect for my neighbors. If I am going to have a party, I usually tell them ahead of time. I also give them my phone number so they can call me if things get too noisy. I know I wouldn't want my parents or grandparents living around some of the house that are constantly having parties. Would you? Maybe us students need to consider that the problem isn't always THEM and take some responsibility. BTW students in this town are not charged more rent, not automatically screwed out of deposits (that happens to everyone), and all college students are cheap labor in all college towns. We need to stop acting like this is somehow out of the ordinary and figure out a way to make peace with the poeple around us. Odds are they were here before us and they will be hear after us. Why is it necessary to turn music up so loud anyway (believe me you can have fun and hear the music without it being full blast)? Why is it necessary to yell when the person you're talking to is standing a foot away from you? Doesn't this sound like a little overkill?

Jamesaust 12 years, 1 month ago

"But LaMort said he thought the city's noise ordinance was too subjective. "Right now, everything depends on the attitude of the police officer," said LaMort, who said he had received a noise ordinance ticket without receiving a warning."

"Everything" apparently means being issued a ticket. The fact is, if the police officer's "attitude" (a/k/a, exasperated that his/her time is being wasted by people who should already know they are offending) is incorrect, that's for the party to demonstrate before the judge. The "complainant" does NOT need to appear in court as the police officer becomes the complainant based upon his/her personal observations regarding the offense.

An aquaintance who lived very close to several fraternities in town has told me that every year several of the young fellows come by in August and introduced themselves, make sure he knows their names, has their telephone numbers, and most importantly, make clear that they will remedy ANY issue or concern he has about their impact on the neighborhood. I suspect that less 'organized' students are in fact the source of many of these problems.

A key item that I do not find in this article is: the #1 group most put out by these noisy and disrespectful neighbors are --- other students, the ones studying and working hard and who don't have time for a lot of play.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 12 years, 1 month ago


I have to disagree with you. You are children. Generally speaking, the student population doesn't conduct themselves in the same fashion that responsible adults (non-students) do in Lawrence. I've called the cops on so many parties in my 20 years in Lawrence, all of them involved college students or at least college-age people.

You are NOT being charged more rent. If you and I rented the same place, we'd get charged the same amount. You choose to live where you have to pay the rent you are paying. Be real.

You are paid less because you have no job skills and are not seeking a career position. I graduated from college, have decades of experience, and take a job for longer than a school year, so I make more money than you. If I took a job making coffee at Milton's, I'd make the same as the college students who are doing the same because that's the going rate for labor for that job.

You, as a population, are not being crapped on. You (speaking generally) are welcome GUESTS in our community who (generally speaking) do not always behave like guests. Give yourself 10 years, and you will change your perspective on this situation. Especially if you decide to settle in Lawrence... that will really change your tune.

Jannie Bull stated that the students contribute to our economy, which is true. But, even a crack house brings dollars into the community... that doesn't mean we don't shut down the crack house. We should expect all adults in Lawrence to behave responsibly, regardless of the economic impact. I grew up in the crime infested NE Wichita, but it wasn't until a month ago, in downtown Lawrence, that I saw someone hosing blood of the street after a fatal shooting. We need to manage towards peace and safety instead of saying "But, we're a college town, all this silliness is what makes us COOL". BS.

Tanka_Ma_Ksinacpin 12 years, 1 month ago

I can see both sides of the arguments listed here, But I live close to an apartment house housing college students. This apartment house is a solid 2 blocks away from my house, and I have heard noise coming from it many times. The Police have had to go there several times owing to the actions of those there. I can tell you about the beer cans and whiskey bottles strewn through out the neighbors yards. the trash left, illegally parked cars, drag racing down the streets, people urinating in the street and yards. This has gone on even at 2 and 3 in the morning. Now why exactly are you there at College? Is it to learn or to party? Are you paying your own way through College, or is it your parents money you are wasting or a scholarship? Sure College is a time of learning about life as an adult, but in reality, partying is not a common thing once you enter the workforce. If your reason for attending College is to paty, I do hope that I do not hae to do business with you later in life as I want to deal with someone that has taken the time to properly learn, not someone that has spent their College time in a stupor.

bearded_gnome 12 years, 1 month ago

THIS STORY IS NOW BEING LINKED FROM national, major exposure. includes the comments, but if you go there via drudge you don't get opportunity to comment!
so, if system slows down, this is probably why, as drudge can bring one heck of a lot of eyes to a story.

p.s. drudge is a great news source, read it every day.

Leo_LaRue 12 years, 1 month ago

Let me preface this by saying that I mean no disrespect with the use of the word "kids" to describe young people. It has been my experience that the majority of the population does not reach adulthood (i.e. emotional maturity) until about the age of twenty-six. So most people under this age are kids. Some of them are even young adults. And a very few may actually be adults.

Having lived adjacent to a major college (Old Dominion University) for the past ten years I have some experience with the noise and party issues facing the local community. The bottom line is that the students are guests in these neighborhoods. As guests they should understand that they have responsibilities and a certain level of respect which are necessarily shared with their neighbors. These "party" situations are not part of this responsibility or respect. The nuisance activities generated by these party houses are not contained just to the party houses. Just as the noise radiates and disturbs the neighborhood so do other aspects of these parties. Public intoxication, drug abuse, public urination, vandalism, impaired driving, litter, and abuse of privilege all radiate into the neighborhood. The college kids don't do the cleanup of this party fallout; the responsible members of the local community who have a vested interest as homeowners to keep the area safe do it. The noise, trash, vandalism, and general disturbance have a detrimental affect on the permanent residences of this community. With freedom comes responsibility. The two cannot exist separately. The fact that people are responsible and accountable for their actions may be the most important lessen young people will ever learn in college.

As for the increase in enforcement, I guess the era of "kids will be kids" and of the police turning a blind eye to these disturbances is finally over. There are laws. Either follow them or get them changed. If not, then grow up and learn to take responsibility for you actions.

But the kids are also partially right. They're not the only ones who share responsibility here. I think that the property owners should be ticketed too. Perhaps then the owners would take responsibility for the nuisance properties. A "clean up or get out" letter or notice of eviction would certainly be a wake up call.

About the comments by various young people about pulling up stakes and switching universities so that the local community will "dry up and blow away ". More power to you. You'll not be missed. If you want to be treated like an adult, then act like one.

But the sad reality here is that if you're one of the party people then you probably don't have the GPA to transfer to another school, let alone graduate. So we're stuck with you until you drop out and join the workforce in the food service industry. You want fries with that?

Quint 11 years, 6 months ago

Let me start by saying that I used to live next to three bars when I first moved here. I can understand the new noise law when it comes to 3am parties in the "student ghetto".

This being said, I think this law is punishing something that so many people in lawrence are passionate about. People are being punished who simply want to play music. I myself am a drummer in a band and have had jam sessions and practiced for about 5 months at my new place. It wasnt until recently that an officer appeared at my door and said I recieved a complaint. The time was about 2pm. Thankfully the officer was very compliant and I appreciate his attitude towards the situation.

With this new law, the fun of starting and being in a band would die and part of our powerful local music scene would vanish. Let me be the first to say that "garage bands" do not mean the public any harm. If the neigbors or in my case the neighbor had a problem with this, all they would of had to do was come over and discuss how to make this better. The fact that I get a cop call after 5 months of playing seems a little outragerous. With this new law in effect, I seriously wonder if something I'm truly passionate about will collapse.

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