Unruly gatherings: Paradise Valley seeks stricter ordinance

Paradise Valley Town Hall is at 6401 E. Lincoln Drive. (photo by Melissa Fittro)

Examining the practices of Arizona’s three collegiate towns — Flagstaff, Tempe and Tucson — the Town of Paradise Valley has set its sights on implementing an ordinance to address unruly gatherings.

Paradise Valley Police Chief Peter Wingert and town council Thursday, Feb. 22, discussed and gathered input on proposing a town ordinance for gatherings that leave neighbors irritated.

“This is another tool the police department can use in order to help neighborhoods,” Chief Wingert explained at the onset of the discussion.

“Mayor Collins, I know you’ve been at a couple of community meetings where neighborhoods are upset about instances of partying going on in their neighborhood. This ordinance is to address those types of issues.”

Paradise Valley Police Chief Peter Wingert, at left, with Robert Kornovich, the town’s IT director, during a recent work session discussion. (File photo)

The issue can, at times, stem from private property owners who rent out their homes for vacation rentals, weddings and events, town officials contend.

The discussion at Town Hall, 6401 E. Lincoln Drive, yielded support from the town council members, who had first talked about the ordinance in October 2017.

The proposed Unruly Gathering Fee shall be no more than $310 per hour, based on the following actual costs:

  • Officer $72.41 per hour
  • Supervisor $80.54 per hour
  • Dispatcher $37.23 per hour
  • Vehicle $15.69 per hour

It is assumed unruly gatherings will require two patrol officers ($144.82), one supervisor ($80.54), one dispatcher ($37.23), and three hours of a patrol vehicle ($47.07), according to the Town of Paradise Valley website.

Chief Wingert’s presentation to town council included the details of the proposed ordinance.

For a gathering to be considered “unruly” there must be at least five or more people, and have one of the following disturbances:

  • Noise
  • Obstruction of streets
  • Drinking in public
  • Drugs
  • Serving alcohol to minors
  • Disturbance of the peace
  • Fighting

Chief Wingert says he believes his officers will use discretion when being called to a report of an unruly gathering.

“I’m not going to cite them most likely the first time we go there, I’m going to say ‘hey we need to cut it down,’” Chief Wingert explained.

“If we come back that night, they’re going to get a citation. Realistically, if I come back to 1234 Main Street the next weekend and it’s different participants, we could cite them under this ordinance.”

The Unruly Gathering Fee is a class 1 misdemeanor, the police chief noted, and carries a fine between $1,000 to $2,5000 depending on how many times the property has been visited in the past.

The officer will have the option to issue a citation to the responsible people at the scene, or can issue a citation to an off-site or non-present person at a later-date.

Properties that are cited will have a notice posted to the property that an unruly gathering occurred there, Chief Wingert said.

“How long will this scarlet letter be left up?” Councilman Paul Dembow asked.

The first time, the citation will be left up for 90 days. If there’s a subsequent event, it will extend for another 90 days.

“Of the three (municipalities) that we looked at, Flagstaff, Tempe and Tucson all had a provision that were 90 to 180 days,” Chief Wingert explained.

Residents who are planning an event can apply for a special events permit at Town Hall, Paradise Valley officials noted.

“One formality, we don’t break up a wedding — this is a challenging one, it’s somewhat where we see the abuse,” Town Manager Kevin Burke said at the meeting. “They’ve rent out the place for a wedding. Generally, our protocol, our discretion has been we don’t break up a wedding.”

Town Attorney Andrew Miller recalled finding Paradise Valley homeowners who post their sites, with address, online to provide a venue for weddings.

“We had one property that had to cancel four or five weddings within probably a month or month and a half of the wedding date,” Mr. Miller said. “One property owner said — he had my private line — ‘I’m going to give all the brides your number.’”

Mr. Miller says several crying brides-to-be did indeed call him.

The ordinance is expected to be brought back to the town council during a March meeting.

News Services Editor Melissa Fittro can be reached at 623-445-2746, by e-mail at mfittro@newszap.com or follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MelissaFittro

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