Cops get a new tool

Depending on your point of view, the city’s new “disorderly events” ordinance will either be good for unruly partiers by giving police the ability to shut down out-of-control gatherings without having to arrest anyone, or it will give the police new, enhanced powers to hassle people who are enjoying themselves.

Both views were expressed Tuesday (Sept. 4), when the City Council approved the ordinance on its first reading, allowing police to shut down any social gathering if they see three or more illegal acts—from fighting and vandalism to drinking on city property and illegal fireworks—being committed.

It will supersede other ordinances that are based on the size of the event, number of complaints and number of police responses required. In support, Mayor Andy Holcombe argued it “allows the police to take a less draconian approach” to unruly events.

The ordinance passed 4-3, with Vice Mayor Ann Schwab and Councilmembers Mary Flynn and Scott Gruendl dissenting. They were concerned that some of their questions hadn’t been answered and that data from Santa Barbara, on whose ordinance this one is modeled, about its effectiveness hadn’t been collected. It will come back to the council for a final reading at a future meeting.

For more on the ordinance, see “Days of Lore.”