A Towson program tamping down disruptive college parties in residential neighborhoods could soon be expanded to the rest of Baltimore County.
Councilman David Marks, who represents Towson, wants to empower law enforcement to slap civil fines up to $1,000 on hosts of repeated unruly gatherings and their landlords as a way to reduce noise and prevent substance abuse.
The expansion would codify a pilot program, dubbed the social host ordinance, after it was launched in 2016 to address years of tension between permanent residents and Towson University students over loud parties. The ordinance currently covers only areas within the county police department’s Towson precinct and around the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
The council voted to continue the pilot program in 2018 with a 2022 sunset provision. The proposed bill would expand the program’s boundaries to cover the rest of the county and make it permanent. Marks proposed the initial program and the current bill to extend it.
“It creates a disincentive for bad behavior to occur,” Marks said. “I don’t think the social host ordinance has been abused, but it certainly has created the expectation that people need to be respecting peace of mind.”
Party-throwing tenants and their landlords who violate the law would be on the hook should they be reported for unruly noise. On a first violation, landlords and tenants could receive a written warning or $500 civil penalty. If there’s a second violation within two years of the first offense, they’re hit with at least a $500 fine. If the issue persists, offenders may be ordered to pay $1,000 and landlords risk losing their rental license.