Baltimore County Council members want to expand reach of law aimed at stopping loud parties

Posted at 6:01 PM, Jan 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-24 08:33:55-05

As Towson University grows, more and more students move into the near-by neighborhoods.  Along with the new faces, homeowners started seeing an increase in loud, large parties at these off-campus rentals.

"We've had a house, relatively close by where we've had twelve police cars called, and they had to put out about 250 people,” said David Riley, Vice President of the Knollwood Association.          

So last January the Baltimore County Council approved the "Social Host- Unruly Social Gatherings Pilot Program.”  It’s a two-year trial in certain communities around Towson University and the University of Maryland Baltimore County.         

Councilman David Marks spearheaded the legislation aimed at cutting back on conduct that disturbs the peace.

"Traditionally, the county has focused on only the renters, under this pilot program we're also targeting landlords,” he said.  “If there is unruly behavior not only the renters, but the landlords are held responsible as well."

The penalties get worse each time you get ticketed.  For tenants, the first civil citation comes with a $500 fine and 20-hours of community service.  A second violation carries a $1,000 fine and 32-hours of community service.  For third and subsequent penalties, the renter is fined $1,000 and must complete 48-hours of community service.

Property owners get a warning the first ticket, but are fined $500 for a second violation.  After that, the penalty is a $1,000 fine and the landlord could lose their rental license.

"It's definitely having an effect, I think it's having a deterrent effect and I think it's making college students in these areas better neighbors," Marks said.

According to him, police have issued 19 citations since the program launched.          

Families who live in these areas tell ABC 2 News the trash, vandalism, and rambunctious gatherings have all been cut back.

"This legislation has been a really effective tool for the neighborhood to control that very small percentage of renters who don't really put their best foot forward," Riley said.

"We're positive it's having a good effect on the quality of life in the neighborhood," President of Aigburth Manor Association of Towson Inc., Paul Hartman said.

That's why Marks proposed last week to expand the program to include more communities with a high number of college renters.

"We are proposing to expand it along Joppa Road in Northern Towson, and then Rodgers Forge in Southern Towson, and over here, Loch Raven Village and Knettishall,” said Marks.

There is a work session on expanding the program scheduled for February 14th, and the final vote in council is set for February 21st.

If the legislation is approved, it will become law in March.