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Planning A Party?

People have parties for many different good and valid reasons. It may be to celebrate a birthday, a promotion, a marriage, the start or end of the school year, or just to get together with a group of friends. Whatever the reason for a party, two basic rules should apply ... It should be a pleasant experience for those in attendance and it should not be an unpleasant experience for the neighbors.

Each year the San Luis Obispo Police Department responds to thousands of party calls where the host allowed the noise level or acts of party goers to become a disturbance to neighbors and a violation of the law. This brochure is designed to provide information that will help you have a successful party while avoiding problems with your neighbors or with the police department.

Some Suggestions for a Successful Party

Spontaneity has its place but when it comes to parties, it causes more problems than it solves. Advance planning is the key to having a successful party.

  • Don’t have “open” parties. These are trouble with a capital “T.” Make attendance by invitation only and don’t invite too many guests.
  • Consider parking and the amount of room you have to comfortably accommodate your guests without having them spill out into your neighborhood.
  • Tell your neighbors that you are having a party. Inform them when it will start and when it should end. Give them your phone number to call in the event that they have a complaint. Encourage them to call you first instead of the police. Invite them if appropriate.
  • Consider having daytime or early evening parties that end before 10:00 p.m. This will further reduce the chances that any noise generated will be an annoyance to neighbors.
  • Plan activities that keep guests interested and involved.
  • Set amplified sounds at a reasonable level. Be sure the sound stays confined to your dwelling or property. Don’t allow offensive language to be overheard by your neighbors.
  • Basic rule: Keep noise to a minimum!

Once Your Party Has Started...

  • “Police” your own party. Step outside occasionally and walk a short distance away. What you hear is what your neighbors hear. Make adjustments as necessary.
  • If you serve alcohol, make it part of the event and not the event itself. Do not sell or furnish alcohol to minors!
  • Stay sober yourself. It’s hard to be a good host when you are impaired. You never know when you might have to handle an emergency.
  • Don’t allow people at your party to leave the premises with open alcohol containers.
  • Help your guests who have been drinking avoid driving while under the influence of alcohol. If your guests are under age, inform them about the Zero Tolerance Law. As of January 1, 1994, anyone under 21 caught driving with a blood alcohol content of .01% or greater will lose their license for one year.
  • In the event party crashers appear, call the police immediately.
  • In the event that SNAP members or police officers show up at your residence in response to a complaint, listen to and follow their suggestions and/or directions. They have a responsibility to investigate the complaint and bring it to a resolution.
  • Do not assault or interfere in any way with the responding officers and do not allow guests to do so. Any of these actions can result in criminal prosecution.

Once the Party is Over...

  • After everyone has left or early the next morning, go around the neighborhood and clean up any litter deposited as a result of your party.

Some Laws & Programs to be Aware of When Planning Your Party

SLO Municipal Code 9.12.050(A)  States that no person shall make, continue or cause to be made or continued, or permit or allow to be made or continued, any noise disturbance in such a manner as to be plainly audible at 50' from the noisemaker across a real property line. A violation of this section can result in the issuance of a Disturbance Advisement Card PAC) or a criminal citation. The fine for violation of this section ranges from $350 to $1000.

SLO Municipal Code 8.24.020(D)  States that two or more noise disturbances at one location within a 60 day period may result in civil and/or criminal charges being filed against the owner(s) of the property.

SLO Municipal Code Sections 9.21.010 & 9.21.020  Authorizes the issuance of a written warning in the form of a DAC Card to noise violators and provides for the billing of noise violators for police time to respond and investigate a second or subsequent violation within a 24 hour period. This cost is completely separate from any fine that may result from a criminal citation and can run as high as $500 per incident!

SLO Municipal Code 9.04.010  States that it is unlawful for any person to consume alcoholic beverages while on any city street sidewalk, alley, roadway, parking lot, publicly maintained place, or any place open to the public.

25658(A)Business & Professions Code  States that every person who sells, furnishes, gives, or causes to be sold, furnished, or given away, any alcoholic beverage to any person under the age of 21 is guilty of a misdemeanor.

25662(A)Business & Professions Code  States that any person under the age of 21 years who has any alcoholic beverage in his or her possession on any street or highway or in any public place or in any place open to the public is guilty of a misdemeanor.

Student Neighborhood Assistance Program (SNAP)  SNAP members are trained Cal Poly and Cuesta College students who respond to first time noise complaints within the City of San Luis Obispo. They determine if a violation exists and if so will issue either a verbal warning or a DAC card. They do not issue citations. If they are met with hostility or if it is felt a citation is appropriate, a police officer will be called to the scene.

San Luis Obispo Police Department
San Luis Obispo CA 93401
Phone 805.781.7317
Fax 805.543.8108

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