OP-EDS

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May 19, 2006

Shhh…

Public parties are as much a part of life in Chicago as the wind off the lake and watching the Cubs lose. As it stands now, students and Chicago residents alike enjoy an arbitrary, but sufficient, legal code for the regulation of these parties. But if the Chicago City Council passes a proposed noise ordinance, Chicago will become the city where fun comes to die.

As it currently stands, police are allowed to issue fines and break up a party if the noise level exceeds a certain level. However, because enforcement requires a high-tech noise detection device that is too expensive for policemen to be equipped with, enforcement is usually left to the whim of each officer. It is a flawed law with good intentions.

The revised version being put up for vote eliminates the need for the noise-detection devices, establishing a standards-based approach that doesn’t allow for noise “above conversation level.” The new law would ban noise that can be heard 100 feet away between the hours of 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. Fines would be $300 for a first offense, $500 for a second offense, and $1,000 for a third. The Maroon is concerned that by eliminating concrete rules, the law becomes even more arbitrary, molding to fit the mood of any of Chicago’s finest and providing no basis by which party hosts can predict or control whether noise exceeds a conversational level.

Because the standards are subjective, the proposed punishment system is exorbitant and unnecessary. While we recognize the right to quiet enjoyment for all citizens, that same right cannot be used as an excuse to filch from the pocketbooks of party-throwing Chicagoans without clear legal boundaries.