Our University Park neighborhood is close to the University of Washington and many of us have chosen to live here because of the close proximity to this great institution. We also have many students living in our area. For many of them this is the first time they are on their own, and not all of them understand how to handle this new situation. The resulting problems with unruly and noisy parties and associated vandalism are not new to our neighborhood.
Fortunately we have good support from the Seattle Police Department (SPD), the University administration and the University Police Department (UWPD) to deal with party related issues. Experience has shown that problems do not go away by themselves, they have to be dealt with. It is important to understand the rules and regulations when making complaints.
Seattle has several noise ordinances addressing different issues. These are defined in the Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) in Chapter 25.08
A good summary of the rules and enforcement action is available on the Seattle Police Department website.
It is unlawful to make “Public Disturbance Noises” such as unreasonable motor vehicle sounds or playing loud music at any time of the day. Note that the human voice is not included in this Code part. Loud screaming is allowed during daytime. But in addition, there is the Residential Disturbance section which is in effect during night time (10-7 Sun-Thu, 11-7 Fri-Sat). This is the most effective part of the Code for our typical problems. In this case, if frequent, repetitive or continuous noise is audible 75 feet away, police officers can issue citations on the spot (presently $269.- for the first offense). In addition, there are legal repercussions for the landlord, in particular if there is more than one citation issued for an address within a 12 month period. The University of Washington has rules for students (see the Community Standards and Student Conduct Office webpage).
If you experience problems with neighbors holding a noisy party it is of course great if you can talk them into quieting down. If you are uncomfortable with this or if it is ineffective, do not hesitate to call 911, in particular if the party is open to anyone walking in, or if you observe violence or vandalism. We have seen too many serious party incidents in our neighborhood, in particular with uninvited party crashers who walk into one of these open events and are looking for trouble.
Do not worry about tying up the 911 emergency number. Noise calls have a low priority and the operator will put you on hold if another call comes in. Use the SPD non-emergency number (206) 625-5011 only for follow-up calls, parking complaints and such. When you make a 911 call please be as specific as possible with your complaint. If ever possible give the house number of the place where the trouble occurs. If you report your own address, the incident will be logged under your house.
The University Park Community Club keeps track of problem properties and complaints if we hear about them. We will also follow up with the Seattle Police Department and/or the University if appropriate. Please let us know about problems by contacting our board member Ruedi Risler at firstname.lastname@example.org.