Disorderly house ordinance to be reworked

By Dave Gong

The wording of DeKalb’s disorderly house ordinance is too vague, said Brett Brown, Safe and Quality Housing Task Force member, at a meeting Tuesday evening.

The current disorderly house ordinance deals with noise violations, underage drinking and other activities “that unreasonably interfere with the quiet enjoyment of life or by which the peace and good order is disturbed.”

The committee discussed a plan to re-work DeKalb’s current disorderly house ordinance to include better, more useful language for both tenants, homeowners and landlords.

“The concern we had was, ‘disturbing the peaceful enjoyment of the neighborhood’ is too vague,” Brown said.

Mike Pittsley, committee member and local property owner, said he thinks the ordinance was originally put on the books to deal with parties in “college areas” of the city.

“I’m almost positive,” he said. “It doesn’t seem to be written for criminal behavior.”

Brown said law enforcement officials have said they don’t feel comfortable using the current disorderly house ordinance to deal with criminal behavior.

“That’s a short-coming in the ordinance then,” Brown said.

DeKalb Mayor Kris Povlsen said he sees two separate issues emerging: one that has to do with criminal activity taking place within neighborhoods in DeKalb and the other pertaining to property maintenance.

Povlsen said though he feels the committee has done a good job in identifying problems and coming up with tools to combat them, he has also directed his staff to begin reviewing the ordinance and researching what has been done in other communities.

Brown said revising the ordinance would also look at how to hold landlords more accountable for actions that occur on their properties.

Committee member Brian Morsch said there is also a need to address the degree of acceptability of noise in different areas of DeKalb.

The committee discussed avenues of notifying landlords of disorderly house violations received by their tenants, such as software aimed at providing notification to landlords.

The committee also discussed the Enough is Enough initiative, and how NIU’s new student code of conduct policy has been publicized to students.

“I think most of the students are reputable citizens,” Povlsen said.

Safety sub-committee member Colleen Coghlan explained that the Enough is Enough initiative is a program aimed at teaching students how to be part of the solution for improving public safety in DeKalb that would include formal training for students.