BUFFALO, NY - The Buffalo Common Council has taken action to address the ongoing issue of underage drinking and loud parties, in one city neighborhood. The University Heights district located near UB South, has gotten the reputation of a party area.
Steps have been taken in the past, but lawmakers say more was needed.
This ordinance, which essentially is a law, has a name -- it's called the "Nuisance Party" ordinance. And, it gives Buffalo police officers more power to break up large parties. It also targets not only people who attend the parties, but those who host them as well and property owners themselves.
Drive around Buffalo's University Heights neighborhood after a Friday or Saturday night and you'll probably find beer cans, cups and trash on sidewalks and front yards. The evidence left behind from parties held predominantly by UB students.
"The community has dealt with this far too long and we really needed to take this extreme measure," said Buffalo Common Council Member Rasheed Wyatt.
Common Council has passed an ordinance that allows police to access properties without a warrant, when they see behavior associated with wild parties like the -- illegal sale or consumption of alcohol, unlawful possession of drugs, littering and outdoor urination.
"They can actually go and address those students right then and there," Wyatt said.
Address them meaning -- giving them an appearance ticket to report to court at a later date -- where students could get a fine and possibly serve jail time. The ordinance doesn't just apply to those who attend the party, but also those hosting it -- and property owners as well.
"Because in the past, owners have kind of skated through it, it wasn't an issue for them, now we have a way to go after them as well," Wyatt said.
Penalties include fines up to $1,500 and up to 15 days in jail. But, Wyatt says this would have to be determined by a judge.
"The goal is not to incarcerate students that's not our number one goal, but certainly we want there to be a deterrent that students know," Wyatt said.
Richard Parke, a local property owner in University Heights says he likes that lawmakers have taken action.
We found him Wednesday cleaning up one of his properties.
"I still think you have property owners who are old school that want the least amount of maintenance and packed the houses filled with illegal bedrooms and what not," he said.
REPORTER: what specifically are you going to be working on next to address the problems here?
"Well, to be honest with you I'm going to give one last ditch effort to talk to the president to see if we can come to some type of head," Wyatt said, referring to UB President Satish Tripathi. Wyatt says he's had talk with him before and wants UB to reduce the number of buses after midnight on Friday and Saturday nights.