UC Berkeley

University, residents collaborate on campaign for quiet

Signs in the Piedmont/Parker neighborhood remind students that Berkeley ordinances require quiet after 10 p.m. Photo: Lance Knobel

This weekend, a group of local residents and Cal joined forces to ask for some peace and quiet in a southside neighborhood that embraces one of the university’s biggest housing units, as well as fraternity row.

The Quiet Campaign of the Happy Neighbors Group posted signs all over the Piedmont/Parker neighborhood and hosted a low-key event on Clark Kerr campus to bring students together with local residents.

“It’s going to take a while to have an impact,” said Phil Bokovoy, a block captain for the Piedmont/Parker Neighborhood Watch, and a member of the chancellor’s Student/Neighborhood Advisory Committee. Bokovoy spent a good part of Friday afternoon putting up the graphic “Shhhh!” signs. He said on Monday morning that he estimated about one-third of the signs had been taken down over the weekend. “But the other night I heard someone go by my house and say, ‘Sh!'”

The Quiet Campaign aims to reduce the impact of more than 1,200 university students living next to long-established residential neighborhoods by increasing student awareness of the surrounding neighborhoods, educating neighbors on the resources available to address late-night drunken behavior, vandalism and out-of-control student parties, and creating expectations of student conduct. It was developed after a series of focus groups of neighbors and students, as well as a survey of local residents.

The Happy Neighbors Project, a pilot project run by the Piedmont/Parker Neighborhood Watch group funded by the Chancellor’s Community Partnership Fund, has been working for the past 14 months to develop interventions to reduce the impact of students living in and around and passing through the Piedmont/Parker and Dwight/Hillside neighborhoods.

“A lot of the neighbors are really burned out by this issue,” said Karen Hughes, coordinator of PartySafe@Cal in the University Health Services. “But we have 40% of undergrads reporting having their own sleep disrupted. We’re trying to educate students and neighbors about the expectations.”

Karen Hughes speaks to residents and RAs at the Clark Kerr campus. Photo: Lance Knobel

According to Hughes, the major problem comes from drunken students who neither have awareness of the disturbance they are creating not much self-control.

Hughes led an informal discussion on the Clark Kerr campus between residents (and their dogs) and students — with dog treats for the four-legged attendees and ice cream for students. She encouraged residents to call the UCPD if they heard disruptive students (the UCPD non-emergency number is 510-642-6760).

“We need neighbors to call and say the right things to UCPD,” she said. “They should be accurate and descriptive. You have to call. This is [the UCPD’s] job, but they can only take action if someone calls.”

Hughes pointed out that there’s an inherent conflict between the City of Berkeley’s noise ordinance — which calls for quiet between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. seven days a week — and the university’s own regulations, which mandate quiet after 11 p.m. on weekdays and after 1 a.m. on weekends.

Hughes encouraged two resident advisors who attended the get-together to encourage students to walk along non-residential streets where possible. For example, she said students should use Channing Way rather than Parker Street to get to and from Clark Kerr.

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  • bgal4

    Yet another attempt in a long list  over decades which fails to implement a comprehensive enforceable solution. Why is it that Berkeley/ UCB continue to reach for the lowest branch when other cities with UC have shown what is possible?

  • Mary

    I used to live at Parker and Piedmont (in fact right across the street from Phil Bokovoy, and I hope he reads my comment).  One of the reasons why I moved is that I was sick and tired of being awakened night after night by students whooping it up in the streets.  If they are intelligent enough to attend UC Berkeley, they ought to be able to understand that other people have rights.

    The City’s noise ordinance is  better than the university’s regulations – 11 p.m. on weekedays and 1 a.m. on weekends are past many people’s bedtimes.  But alas, this ordinance is one more law that is not enforced.

  • Anonymous

    It seems that the conflict between the noise regulations is easily solved. UCB can adopt the Berkeley one for any event not in the interior of a campus residence hall. Let student events be loud till 11pm only if their noise is kept away from the city by two layers of walls. 

  • Charles_Siegel

    The city’s ordinance is the law everywhere except on UC property. 

    UC can confuse students by issuing different guidelines, but they cannot change the law – just as UC could confuse students by issuing guidelines saying that students don’t have to pay when they park at meters, but the city law would still apply and the city could still ticket students who don’t pay at the meters. 

  • Laurel Coates

    Wish my neighbors would read this.

    I live in southwest Berkeley, nowhere near the neighborhood described in this article.

  • Mcsas

    Do the residents use power lawn mowers and leaf blowers? I’m not taking the side of the noisy and inconsiderate students but just adding that gas powered lawn and trimming equipment irritates the hell out of me. I don’t live in Berkeley but I know that the residents of this neighborhood are well educated and largely considerate so I was wondering if they had a noise ordinance of their own covering these types of annoyances.

  • TizziLish

    It’s not just UC and UC Cops that give arbitrary, special treatment to noise, altho I readily believe dorms packed with students living adjacent to single family homes is a big problem.

    I live in the affordable housing building adjacent to David Brower Center, which, yes, has a permit to function as a conference center. It’s sales force, however, sells it as party space and sometimes booms loud music into the 150 or so bedrooms in my building, plus the 8 floors of the Gaia building, the lower stories apartments along Oxford to the South, including a student-oriented private-dorm kind of housing.

    I call the cops and complain and, miraculous, sometimes, but only sometimes, the responding police enforce the 10 p.m. noise ordnance, which prohibits making loud noise near residential space after ten p.m. A party with 100 or 200 folks drinking alcohol, accompanied by blasting music, at 10 p.m. to midnight (which, of course starts much earlier for by 10 p.m. neighbors have been hearing the roar and boom for many hours, just waiting for 10 p.m. to come). Legally, even the politically well connected David Brower Center and its well connected office tenants are supposed to get noise permits when a loud party will go after 10 and technically they are limited in how many noise permits they can get.I am certain cops know these rules if I do. But the last time, with Berkeley High having a booming class reunion on the patio outside my bedroom recently, a Berkeley cop looked me right in the eye and said the 10 p.m. noise ordnance did not apply to DAvid Brower cause they have a permit. A permit to do what, I asked?  I told him bluntly that there is no perimit to make loud noise in conference space past 10 p.m., that I have talked to many city staffers and city cops about it. 

    clearly the cop cared more about the beautiful young woman ‘managing’ the party who coyly promised the noise would stop at midnight. Angrily I told the cop I had been listening to the boom for hours so my patience was gone by 10 pm. By the time he and I talked, it was 11 p.m. and he told me he was going toi let the party go until midnight even though they did not have a noise permit. But, because I was very angry — and he lectured me for showing my anger and I angrily said “I still have legal rights even when angry, I am not speaking abusively and I don’t want to hear your condescension” he said “You are insulting me” and I said “you just insulted me with your condescension, trying to shame me for expecting you to enforce the law”

    To my amazement, he did  call a cop supervisior to come over to talk to me. I left, though. I aad been trying toi sleep, by then, for well over an hour and the cop’s attitude has not helped my mood. Even a cop refusing to turn off the parties, which happens more often than not, usulaly says “sorry about the noise but I am not oign to stop it”. I left but the noise abruptly got shut down soon after. I assumed the supervisor enforced the actual law, cause they had no noise permit that night:  the first cop had checked into that already.Cops should not have the discretion to decide what the law is. The noise ordnance is  clear and all residential Berkeley residents have a right to expect quiet after 10 p.m.I totally support this effort to quell student ignorance, which probably emerges from drinking and smoking dope.  Young adults probably didn’t hear lots of loud parties before living at college, when, typically, most parents act like I do and expect their local laws enforced. It takes time for young adults to figure out “oh, I am not the center of the universe, oh, real people besides partying, flirting college kids are sleeping”.As other comments point out, any kid smart enough to get into UC Berk knows better, or should easily know better. and UC police  could focus on this and change this rapidly. If kids got arrested for being noisy after 10 p.m. the word would spread and consideration of others would spread.We’re all in this world together. Drunken and/or loud partying is not a constitutional right but a right to be let alone actually is. I think the great U.S. Supreme Court Justice Learned Hand wrote the opinion that found our right to be let alone. It was a case about privacy but noise intrusion is an invasion of one’s right to be let alone, or one’s privacy.I wish I knew the cop’s name who lectured me for being angry like I was a child instead of the 59 year old lawyer that I am. He knew I was a lawyer, cause I told him. He was a lot more polite after I did, but he was flat wrong. He let that noise drag on over an hour after he first arrived to quell it. And he really didn’t like it when I said this to him, but I think he responded to the skinny pretty young party manager instead of the plump middle aged angry resident with a right to be let alone.Actually, I find that most UC students, when sober, regularly tromp through Berkeley as if the whole city is their campus and they forget nonstudents live here but, almost always, if the kids are sober and an adult says something, the smart good kids who worked hard to get to UC Berk politely apologize and change their behavior.  I am never out near drunk or high kids after 10 p.m. but I bet it’s virtually always drunk, and drug-high kids making the noise near Clark Kerr. Crack down on underage drinking, and I bet much of the problem goes away.

  • TizziLish

    I know, cause I call the Berkeley cops a lot about parties at the David Brower  Center that boom past 10 p.m., that the cops enforce the noise ordnance very inconsistently. I understand that cops have to be empowered with some discretion but they are often too flexible about this major quality of life issue. And yet I bet none of the cops who are tolerant of noise past 10 p.m. put up with it in their own neighborhoods.

    I know this is not a major issue, and not seen as an economic one and our politicians often ignore issues that don’t show an income source or donors but it is a major quality of life issue and if city and UC cops were strict about underage drunks on the street, the problem would go away.

    My daughter started college at 16. She did not go to UC but she did go to an IVY. In her first semester at college, she got very drunk and loud in a dorm room at a small party. Her campus securuity picked her up and took her to a hospital cause she was very dangerously drunk.  Two boys had, this is true, been almost pouring liquuor down her hoping to get lucky. Her noisy drunkenness probably saved her from getting raped. She got put on academic probation and so did the boys cause they were also underage drinking. And guess what? She stopped behaving that way.

    it’s a pain for the university to micromanage young adults who are of legal age but it goes with the package of running a university, I think. Crack down on the drinking, put some resources into it and the problem will shrink. Rumors of punishment would spread rapidly cause these kids care about their academic record. 

    Give their negative behavior consequences, like probation, and the behavior will change. If an ivy league campus full of highly privileged smart kids can probate drunken teens, so  an UC Berk.

    I was angry with my daughter, altho few kids make it to adulthood without getting drunk. I actually thought she got lucky she got caught so early and got punished.  I was grateful her university put her on probation:  they wielded power that my anger would not have had with my kid at the time.

    The university has to take their duty to act ‘in loco parentis’ seriously.  I bet ten bucks it aint grad students staggering near Clark Kerr making noise late at night, is it?  It’s young smarat kids who still need boundaries.

  • Guest

    and the law applies in Southwest Berkeley, Laura Coates. Call the cops whenever you hear late night noise. Get the cops to show up, at least try to instruct your neighborhood.

  • TizziLish

    The same noise ordnance that covers late night party noise covers lawn mowers.

    No law, apparently, covers the very early morning and almost every weekday noise of very loud delivery trucks and garbage drunks. I live on the courtyard of my building. Most of my downtown neighbors that live on the street side are awakened most days by trucks at 4 and 5 a.m.   I guess this is  a price of living downtown but I have said many prayers of gratitude that I don’t live on the street side. . .and I hear these trucks in the courtyard!

  • Guest

    Berkeley has a noise ordinance which prohibits the use of gas powered leaf blowers, but it is not enforced. It is a fact that, after every game at Cal memorial stadium trash is collected and removed using gas powered leaf blowers.

    Cal is a sovereign nation, which means, the rules and laws of California, Alameda county, and the City if Berkeley don’t apply. It is futile for neighbors to try to change University behavior…

  • Tzedek

    Residents of a nasty University of California at Berkeley student crash-pad in our neighbourhood INSIST that, because they are “young and playful,” it is OK for them to keep the rest of our neighbourhood awake any time they choose.  

    This animal-house crash-pad has been the site for frequent loud, late-into-the-morning parties.   Many parties include serving substances to minors, fights with fists and worse, breaking bottles into the street, thieving from nearby homes of long-time-resident families, drunken car accidents, and what appears to be prostitution.   When these hooligans were politely asked to be quiet so our children could sleep, they assaulted us.  

    Last weekend, when we texted to UCB’s “anonymous tip line” (cal@tipnow.com), UCB’s only response was, basically, “This off-campus party is NOT a UCB problem!  Call Berkeley police.”

  • bgal4

    Happy Neighbors Project = wilted carrot

    Tizzielish is on target “Crack down on underage drinking, and I bet much of the problem goes away.”

    BAPAC,Berkeley Alcohol Policy and Advocacy Coalition, monitoring and enforcement program = meaningful stick, regulate the setting where alcohol is served and used by minors. 

    BAPAC won a sizable federal grant from the Dept of Education to evaluate effectiveness of the program to reduce underage drinking. However, without legitimate implementation of the program by the city of Berkley we were forced to decline the grant. In a rare moment of  town and gown relaioins BAPAC and Students for a Safer Southside had cultivated considerable support which included UCB Vice chancellor. Cummings. It was  Mayor Bates and Kriss Worthington who primarily undermined the implementation of the program. Anderson, Capitelli, Wozniak went along and sided with the poor frats.

    BAPAC was sacrificed by the current city council to the convenience of ineffective, obstructionist governance.


  • A berkeley neighbor

    Mary I did read your comment, thanks for the post!

  • A berkeley neighbor

    If you’d like a police response, the Berkeley PD non emergency number is 510.981.5900.  On Thurs, Fri, and Sat nights there is a special safety patrol, which is joint UC/BPD, and they respond to calls like yours.  Please call, and make sure that you ask for officer contact when they arrive, so that there is follow up.  We have used this process successfully in our neighborhood to have notices issued under the Nuisance Ordinance (also known as the Second Response Ordinance).  If you don’t get any response to your call, please let the Berkeley Police Chief, Mike Meehan, know.