News-Press Editorial: Used with discretion, noise law could work

A property owner allows frequent use of a house for parties, the celebrations get obnoxiously loud, the neighbors grow weary and friction ensues. It’s a perennial issue in many communities and it’s becoming ever more prevalent as owners or property managers use the Internet to list their homes in residentially zoned areas for short-term rentals — for as brief a rental period as a single day.

Here, in the 1300 block of Norton Avenue, there’s a large home that police have been called to seven different times since October by neighbors objecting to the excessive noise and traffic associated with parties being held there by these transient tenants. In response to numerous complaints about this property, Glendale Police Chief Robert Castro proposed this week that the City Council enact a new law to curb raucous parties. He says he had a hand in implementing such an ordinance in the city of Glendora, his previous employer, and he believes it can help keep the peace in Glendale, too.

Castro’s plan calls for partyers to be given a warning after the first police visit. Repeat offenders could be fined $150 on the next visit; subsequent fines would be $300, then $450. He promises that the ability to fine the party-givers is a tool that would be used with discretion.

The new police chief’s idea seems reasonable to us. But if the City Council decides to go forward with it, Castro and his force must stay true to their word that discretion in citations handed out would be used. Fines are absolutely called for when property owners such as those who own the Norton Avenue “party central” house clearly step on their neighbors’ rights to the quiet enjoyment of their own properties. But the City Council should build some oversight element into the proposed ordinance to make sure it does not go south quickly — abused by citizens who do not have the same level of reason to complain as the Norton Avenue neighbors do, but simply want punitive action taken against someone against whom they hold a grudge.

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