City Council postpones vote to extend probationary period for noise complaints

Vishalli Loomba speaks to the Berkeley City Council to protest the changes to the second response protocol.
Andrew Kuo/Staff
Vishalli Loomba speaks to the Berkeley City Council to protest the changes to the second response protocol.

After a slew of public and staff comments at the Berkeley City Council meeting Tuesday, the council decided to wait to vote on legislation that would have extended the probationary period for noise complaints.

The council voted to gather more information, look for alternatives and return to the council sometime between 60 and 90 days from the meeting.

As the legislation stands now, police respond to noise disturbances and give the residents a first response, which warns that further disruption within the next 120 days will result in financial penalties starting at $750.

The proposed legislation that came under fire this week from much of the UC Berkeley student community would have extended that period from 120 to 180 days.

While members of various neighborhood associations shared their support for the ordinance changes at the meeting, students from the UC Berkeley Interfraternity Council, ASUC and the Berkeley Student Cooperative spoke out against the legislation and requested that students play a larger role in the discussion.

“To truly understand the burden that this brings on students and the stress it causes requires student input,” said ASUC President Vishalli Loomba at the meeting.

Wendy Cosin, assistant planning director for the city, said city staff tried to come up with the item quickly to help address situations like that of 2133 Parker St., a multibedroom residential property that neighbors have declared a public nuisance.

Councilmember Kriss Worthington, among others, expressed his concern that the council did not have enough facts regarding the scope and effectiveness of the legislation to make a decision at the time.

“We need more facts,” Worthington said.

His motion to table the item passed, so as to allow for “analysis and alternatives” and invite “proposals from the community to remedy the situation.”

David Blanchard, president of the campus Interfraternity Council, said he has plans for achieving those alternatives. He said he, along with members of the co-op community, wants to talk to neighbors about the situation.

“Getting to know each other, whether through a backyard barbecue or whatever, is important,” Blanchard said. “They have a right to a neighborhood they can enjoy, but at the same time, we want to explore other solutions. I think communication is most important.”

Annie Sciacca covers city government.

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