October 7, 2019

Explaining the College Park Nuisance Ordinance

By Laura Spitalniak

For many people, parties and late night social gatherings are as much reminiscent of college as lecture halls and finals week all-nighters at the library. For students at the University of Maryland in College Park, that nostalgia may soon have a very different feel.

The town surrounding the university’s flagship campus now wants its residents to stop the “unruly social gatherings” or risk big fines.

The city council of College Park, MD passed a much-discussed nuisance ordinance on September 25. The vote came after hours of community discussion and amendments were put in place to address some of the noise concerns.

Here’s what you need to know:

Any group of eight or more people can automatically be fined if illegal drinking is taking place. There is also a list of nine other behaviors that can lead to violations, including vandalism, littering, and public drunkenness.

The ordinance specified that, not only is it unlawful for people to create nuisances, it is unlawful for anyone to allow nuisances on property they own, occupy or control. This language specifically extends to landlords. If a landlord accrues three offenses during a 24-month period, they would lose their rental licenses.

 

Resident

Landlord

First Offense

$500 fine

Written Warning

Second Offense

$1000 fine

Up to $1000 fine

Third Offense

$1000 fine

Possible loss of occupancy permit



 

The Amendments

  • College Park previously had a noise ordinance in place, limiting how loud residents can be at different times. The first amendment clarifies that residents cannot be fined twice, under both the noise and nuisance ordinances, for the same infraction.
  • Initially, the number of people in a group gathering that could be cited for a nuisance was four. The second amendment to the ordinance doubled that to eight. 
  • Some renters expressed concern that revocation of landlords’ permits would leave people homeless. The third amendment changed when an occupancy permit would be revoked — from immediately after the resident’s third violation to  the end of the current lease. 

The ordinance took effect immediately following its approval at the council meeting.

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