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Rohnert Park: The rowdy party city
With hundreds of complaints, mostly due to SSU students, police seeking crackdown, fines for landlords

  • Rohnert Park Sgt. Wulff Reinhold says party complaints jump in August when students return to Sonoma State University. (KENT PORTER / The Press Democrat)

When it comes to partying, Rohnert Park, of all places, is No. 1 in Sonoma County.

Behind the facade of family-oriented, Middle America suburbs, Rohnert Park has the dubious distinction of having more raucous get-togethers per capita than any neighboring city.

The reason, according to police, is the presence of Sonoma State University and the students who live off campus.

"Sonoma State University students are a majority of our (party) calls," said Rohnert Park Public Safety Sgt. Wulff Reinhold, who has documented the surge in party complaints that begins in August, when students return to school.

It's not quite "Animal House," and there aren't any videos yet of "Rohnert Park Gone Wild," but officers began to notice an increasing number of problem student parties beginning two years ago.

In 2004, Rohnert Park police logged 772 party calls, or 18 calls per 1,000 population. While Santa Rosa had more party complaints - 1,505 - it averaged only 10 calls per 1,000 population because of its much larger size.

Reinhold said some problem parties in Rohnert Park can involve 100 or more people in a house with accompanying "hooting and hollering. You mix in alcohol and music and it sure will upset neighbors."

But even five to 10 people on an outside deck at night can prompt a call for disturbing the peace.

"The more people crammed into a back yard or deck, the more sound carries," Reinhold said.

The increasing number of party-related disturbances has prompted the City Council to consider an ordinance to hold responsible the landlord of a noisy party house for the cost of police services.

The current ordinance only allows the city to bill the "responsible" party - basically, the host - if a social gathering requires a second or subsequent response.

Police also want to change the definition of a second response. Currently, it applies to more than one police visit on the same night.

The Department of Public Safety in February sought authority to bill residents who have two or more party calls over a six-month period.

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