New ordinance regulates loud parties

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Loud parties in southTempeand other city neighborhoods are being targeted for stepped-up police enforcement following approval of a new ordinance regulating “Nuisance Parties and Unlawful Gatherings.”

The Tempe City Council approved a proposal drafted by the Tempe Coalition to amend the Tempe City Code relating to large parties, gatherings and events.

The revised ordinance will become effective early next year. It holds adults responsible for serving alcohol to children other than their own who are under the age of 21. 

A police service fee will be issued on first response, though offenders may be eligible for a substance-use education class in lieu of the first-time fee assessment.

The coalition, a partnership of the city ofTempeand Tempe Community Council, was instrumental in bringing the ordinance to the city council for study and, ultimately, approval.

The group gets funding from Magellan Health Services and recently received a federal Drug Free Communities grant to further its work.

Local representatives of the coalition say their efforts were based on the results of increased research and data indicating that early alcohol and drug use has a correlation to addiction, brain development and increased health and safety risks.

Coalition officials say the group felt strongly that the proposed ordinance would be an effective way to educate adults and youth about the dangers of early alcohol usage.

According to a coalition report, research shows that the brain is not fully developed until the ages of 21-25, and that those who start using alcohol on a regular basis before age 15 have a 40 percent chance of alcoholism, as compared to a seven percent chance for those who start regular use of alcohol at age 21. 

InTempe, first use of alcohol occurs on average at 12½ years of age, according to the coalition study.

Tempe Coalition works under auspices of the city’s Committee for Youth, Families and Community, members of which are said to agree that, with increased information and education, the youth can be positively impacted.

Said coalition coordinator Bobbie Cassano:

“We know parents often provide alcohol to their children and (their children’s) friends because they feel it is safer to have them drink at home; however, we now know how important it is to educate parents that it is neither safe nor healthy to provide alcohol to young people.”

Regarding the new ordinance, the term “nuisance parties” relates to “loud parties, gatherings or events” mentioned in a previous version of the law which remains unchanged.

The “unlawful gatherings” portion of the new ordinance refers to what is often called a “social host ordinance,” which targets any responsible person or host who allows a gathering where alcohol is served to minors.

Children or minors under the legal guardianship of the providing adult are excluded from the ordinance.

Responsible person includes the property owner, the individual in charge of the premises or the person who organized the unlawful gathering.

If the responsible person is a juvenile (under age 18), the designation “responsible party” also includes the juvenile’s parents or guardians.

Coalition members who studied the issue say the goal of the new ordinance is to provide early intervention through substance-use education.

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