Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Tide Is Turning

No single issue has dominated the public discussion in our little college town over the past too many years like the problem of unruly off campus student behavior.

Yes, let me quickly interject that it's only a small minority that indulge in downright dangerous antics, tie up emergency services for preventable alcohol related calls and disturb the tranquility of neighborhoods all over town.

But when the majority of your population consists of "college aged youth,"  that small percentage adds up to significant number -- especially problematic considering our woefully understaffed Public Safety Departments.

Plus they all seem to want to get out of control around the same time:  Thursday night through early Sunday morning.

In response to problems emanating from student rentals the town, 40 years after it was first proposed, enacted a Rental Registration and Permit Bylaw.  As of today 100% of the rental property in town is registered and have a permit that can be revoked.

Neighbors now have easy access to contact information for those adults who are owners/managers of Party Houses and a simple mechanism to file complaints with the town should they not get satisfaction from them.

UMass, the Goliath that provides the vast majority of housing consumers, has also started taking things seriously after student bad behavior started receiving the continuous attention it deserved (kind of like the bad behavior of Bill Cosby should have been exposed many, many years ago).

For over four years now I have focused attention on the weekend circus with my "Party House of the Weekend" reports, naming names of both the arrested perpetrators of the mayhem and the landlords who own the property.

These days I get requests almost weekly to take down a post because a Google search brings it up and prospective employers are probably not overly impressed (although we all were young once I suppose).

March 8, 2014

The Blarney Blowout was also a major turning point as my spotlight on rowdy student behavior was amplified a thousand times over by national and international media coverage.

In spite of the $160,000 Davis Report suggesting overwhelmed police overreacted, the average citizen -- both taxpayers and students -- knows full well the alcohol fueled mayhem was a significant black mark for the University and its student body.

 But you can still buy UMass branded shot glasses at the Textbook Annex

And it has served as an unmistakable wake up call,  or some would argue an attention getting slap in the face.

So why do I, a grumpy old get-off-my-lawn cynic, think things are improving?

Last year between August 15 and November 15 Amherst police responded to 322 noise complaints, while issuing 91 Noise Violations and 33 Nuisance House violations.

This year between August 15 and November 15 Amherst police responded to 214 noise complaints, while issuing only 17 Noise Violations and 25 Nuisance House violations.

In other words total number of $300 tickets levied have dropped from 124 to 42 in just one year.  A stunningly significant decrease. 

Now that's worth partying over!


Anonymous said...

My names on your blog and I got a job. Suck it larry suck it Amherst go umass.

Larry Kelley said...

Well if you're so proud of it, why not leave your name?

Anonymous said...

The # of complaints hasn't changed so much. The number of arrests has and it dropped after the Davis Report. I speculate the police aren't making as many arrests because the town manager didn't have their backs. I also believe by not writing $300 tickets the town is taking a loss of revenue. I don't believe the rental bylaws changed anything. The fire runs have increased also with etoh calls so it doesn't really add up.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully your job doesn't require punctuation. Pumping gas usually doesn't.

Shot glasses - kinda funny, totally inappropriate to be sold by the school.

Anonymous said...

'In response to problems emanating from student rentals the town, 40 years after it was first proposed, enacted a Renal Registration and Permit Bylaw.'

The 'Renal Registration' sounds disgusting and an unnecessary waste of tax resources.

Larry Kelley said...

So Anon 11:15 AM, you think a 33% drop in complaints in not "so much"?

As I pointed out last month APD arrests this September vs last September are also down dramatically from 263 to 92.

And yes, that is due to the Chief's "change in philosophy" trying to deal with protecting his officers and the importance of time management.

But I can assure you concerned neighbors don't care about the Chief's philosophy or lack of personnel.

They are quick to call 911 when the noise levels rise.

And clearly the number of CALLS are down significantly.

Larry Kelley said...

Actually with a $100 annual permit fee the program pretty much pays for itself.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully, you learn how to use the word 'hopefully' before you criticize my punctuation or lack thereof.

Anonymous said...

Actually LK I am willing to bet the "self initiated" calls (which count as a call for service) are the calls that are down. I think the other poster got it right; they are pissed at the TM for allowing the staffing of public services to dwindle to such levels despite 1000 warnings of the dangers of such. I would love to see a 5 to 10 year analysis of self initiated call activity versus calls of service from outside sources. THAT will answer your true question.

Anonymous said...

The tide is far from turning, the cops are waiving the white flag. They don't even look at you anymore when you walk up Fearing Street with a beer. They aren't bothering us at parties. Who do I have to thank? Anyway, thanks for making it easy boys (and girls)!

See if it holds through April '15

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:13 pm

No one in Amherst gets pissed at Town Meeting.

Town Meeting members and their immediate families are the only people in Amherst even AWARE of Town Meeting.

Anonymous said...

Are ambulance calls for ETOH also way down? Are calls for EMT's or ambulances ever "self initiated"?

Larry Kelley said...

No, I'm guessing they are actually up.

And no, they are usually not self initiated.

Anonymous said...

It has been a cold and rainy semester
Not great weather walking to and hanging out at parties!

Anonymous said...

I thought TM meant town manager

Anonymous said...

Great hypothesis Larry but I agree with the others here. The suspect that the police department has finally realized that being the scapegoat for profiteers must end. I wonder if they knew that the campus sold shot glasses while they also spent over $150,000 to be critical of them. A little hypocritical wouldn't you say.

Anonymous said...

Shaming works.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone explain this minute detail: why is the town meeting referred to as "town meeting " and not "The Town meeting. Am i the only one who wishes the 'the' was used? Probly. Oh and there's this: Happy Thanksgiving to one and all.

Anonymous said...

Not on everyone. Some have no shame.

Anonymous said...

Town Meeting in Amherst is "Town Meeting" like Select Board is "Select Board", as Brits refer to someone going to "hospital" and not "the hospital". It's just custom and usage.

I would not worry about this.

Anonymous said...

Not worried . Simply curious. It always seems odd to hear it. Thanks for taking a moment to enlighten me. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to run. Am burning my cake in kitchen.
Thx again though...

Larry Kelley said...

Today is peak season for kitchen fires.

Fight club said...

First rule of town meeting is "Don't talk about town meeting". What a bunch of idiots.

Anonymous said...

"Town Meeting." Didn't that star Brad Pitt?