A new rule Riverside officials adopted to combat underage drinking and curb unruly parties won’t target responsible property owners, council members said Tuesday, July 23.
The council on Tuesday approved on a 5-0 vote a social host ordinance that will penalize party hosts, tenants and owners of properties where minors consume alcohol or illegal drugs. Councilmen Ken Gutierrez and Chris Mac Arthur were absent.
“This ordinance will encourage property owners to be responsible,” whether they’re hosting the party or allowing illegal behavior on the property, City Manager Scott Barber said.
Several other Inland cities, including Corona, Fontana and Moreno Valley, have similar ordinances.
Riverside officials hope the rule will help them respond to complaints from homeowners around UC Riverside about students renting houses in the neighborhood. For the past month, homeowners have been speaking at council meetings about loud, late-night parties; trash strewn in the streets; drunken driving; and public urination.
Under the new rule, Riverside can pursue violators to recover the cost of law enforcement response to the party, attorney fees and other related costs.
“Our first response will result in fines and arrest,” Riverside police Chief Sergio Diaz says in a public service announcement that was shown to the council. “We’re taking this very seriously.”
Some landlords worried about that approach, telling the council they can’t be at their property all the time and they don’t always know tenants are having a party.
“I know the problems of the drinking in the UCR area, but why are you now going to come after me?” rental property owner Glynnis McKinley asked. “This has been decades of a problem.”
City Attorney Greg Priamos said if property owners are made aware of complaints about their tenants and they cooperate with the city to address them, the city won’t pursue them for fines and police response costs.
“This is not intended to go after good landlords, good property managers,” Councilman Mike Gardner said. “This can actually help improve the neighborhood around your property so you can rent it more easily.”
Diaz said other plans include sending a team of officers to look for problem parties, setting up special drunken driving checkpoints, and keeping a list of addresses with a history of complaints to be targeted for enforcement.