Quality of Life [photo credit: State of Mind]

At next week’s meeting, the City Council will discuss the current quality of life-related regulations and programs and provide staff direction. These “quality of life issues” include noise, unruly social gatherings, open containers, public intoxication and public urination.

Noise

Chapter 138-Noise is enforced by Code Enforcement Officers (CEOs) trained in community noise assessment and enforcement. CEOs respond to noise complaints received through the City’s code enforcement hotline and may issue municipal infractions based upon the actual measurement by noise meter of noise and the limits established in the Code. The use of a noise meter is an objective standard that is accepted as evidence in court. As a safety measure, CEOs are accompanied by PGPD police officers when responding to noise complaints. When a qualified CEO is not on duty, PGPD responds to noise complaints and abates the source of loud noise. PGPD officers are not allowed by the County to enforce City code requirements.

Unruly Gathering

Council adopted Chapter 141-Article II-Unruly Social Gatherings in September 2019 to address nuisance behavior and noise. This chapter states that an infraction based solely on noise may not be issued under Chapter 141; one of the other factors listed in 141-12.B must also be proven. To prove any of these factors, a Code or Police Officer must witness the behavior or a witness must provide an affidavit, allowing the City to issue a municipal infraction based thereon and appear as a witness in District Court. Because no CEO has witnessed a violation in progress or no witness has been available, no municipal infractions for violations of this section have been
issued.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, several municipal infractions were issued for violation of the public health limits for large gatherings in Chapter 141-Article I. The fines for violations of §§138 and 141 are the same at $500.00 for the first violation and $1,000.00 for repeat violations within 12 months.

UMD Code of Conduct

There have been City/University quality-of-life initiatives in recent years, which have resulted in significant improvements. Key among these was the expansion of the UM Code of Student Conduct to apply to UM students anywhere off campus. Whenever a municipal infraction or written warning is issued to a UM student, they are referred to the Office of Student Conduct. Sanctions may include counseling through expulsion. In addition, the City and University Multi-Agency Service Team (CMAST) also evolved from a quality-of-life committee. CMAST meets monthly with public safety agencies, UM student affairs, property owners and elected officials to discuss quality of life issues. UMPD provides a composite report of UMPD, PGPD, and City Public Services incident statistics and identifies repeat problem properties for focused enforcement attention.

Loud Noise Due to Modified Mufflers

City Contract Police, in addition to supplementing PGPD emergency responses, focus mainly on quality-of-life issues such as loud modified vehicle exhaust, pedestrian safety, support of code enforcement officer safety, and safety of pedestrians who may be vulnerable when alone late at night, etc.

Health Issues

The City sponsors an annual pre-fall meeting of licensed bar and restaurant owners, police, and liquor inspectors to review applicable regulations and expectations. The increase in contamination is affecting the health of many in the community, especially those who work indoors all day or in factories, this is why it is important to check every Commercial Building Indoor Air Quality. The UMD health service representatives also attend to discuss student health issues and share resources related to using alcoholic beverages.

UM provides mental health services to students, faculty and staff.

[City of College Park]