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SLO balks at further crackdowns on St. Patrick's Day partying

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After several pre-St. Patrick's Day parties spilled into residential neighborhoods and awoke residents early in the morning on March 12, the San Luis Obispo City Council discussed whether or not stiffer penalties could deter Cal Poly students from partying around the holiday.

But, similar to past years, the council ultimately left it alone.

"I absolutely do not want this to come back," Councilmember Carlyn Christianson said at a March 15 City Council meeting. "We've just come out of two years of COVID. We had a few parties that, yes, created noise disturbance that was very disturbing to the residents close by, but weren't some terrible thing that needs this kind of reaction."

BLOCK PARTY Cal Poly students celebrated the St. Patrick's Day holiday early on March 12, starting around 4 a.m., spilling into off-campus residential blocks. Three were arrested, according to police. - SCREENSHOT COURTESY OF KATHIE WALKER
  • Screenshot Courtesy Of Kathie Walker
  • BLOCK PARTY Cal Poly students celebrated the St. Patrick's Day holiday early on March 12, starting around 4 a.m., spilling into off-campus residential blocks. Three were arrested, according to police.

On March 12, police officers responded to multiple parties near Cal Poly's campus beginning at 4 a.m., which took about an hour "to get under control," according to SLO Police Chief Rick Scott. In all, officers arrested three people on drunk in public charges and issued 16 citations.

"We are happy to report we did not have any injuries, either on our police force or with our public," Scott said. "We did have a couple that were transported by EMS for alcohol-related activities."

In 2015, a pre-St. Patrick's Day rooftop party in SLO ended with a roof collapse that sent 10 people to the hospital. Since then, the city has discussed various ideas to discourage unsafe, disruptive partying.

At the March 15 meeting, Councilmember Jan Marx floated the idea of extending the time around St. Patrick's Day when the city enforces a "safety enhancement zone"—where fines for infractions like unruly gatherings or excessive noise are doubled.

Currently, a safety enhancement zone is in effect from midnight on March 17 to 7 a.m. on March 18. But Marx wanted to see the zone include the weekend before the holiday.

"I know it's a can of worms, but practically speaking, it [the partying] is not going to continue to migrate earlier and earlier," Marx said. "They want to do it the weekend before St. Patrick's Day, because it's usually the weekend before 'dead week,' and then they have finals. Then they leave.

"We can't just say, oh well, young people will be young people and they will always wear green and jump up and down. At some point we have to try to get a grip on it," she added.

While Mayor Erica Stewart said she'd be open to a discussion, she and Christianson noted that students would likely still find ways to plan around it. City Manager Derek Johnson also argued that, in general, the partying around St. Patrick's Day has mellowed out. Δ

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