Home > Elected Officials, Flagstaff, New Media, Police State > New Party Ordinance Supporters Misrepresent Critics

New Party Ordinance Supporters Misrepresent Critics

By Elisha Dorfsmith

When the Flagstaff City Council gave the local police department the go-ahead to write an updated party ordinance, Flag PD came back to council with the perfect ordinance…for law enforcement. Vague language about what a violation actually is, huge fines for a first offense, the ability to go after people for simply being at a gathering, and taking the number of people constituting a party from 15 all the way down to 5.

While I believe the original intent of this ordinance was to bully a student housing complex called the Grove into joining the City’s Crime Free Multi Housing Property Program, Flag PD seems to have decided to make this new ordinance a win win in many other ways for their department. The biggest win being a lucrative revenue stream.

These changes caused quite a bit of concern and pushback from Flagstaff residents, especially among Flagstaff’s student community. So much concern in fact, that the Flagstaff City Council was presented with a petition with over 500 signatures asking council to reconsider the ordinance language. Council agreed to look at these suggested changes by a 4-3 vote.

Shortly after council voted to reconsider, a fight at NAU led to a tragic shooting on campus. Within hours, the new version of the party ordinance was being touted as an essential tool to stop violent behavior in the City limits.

Former Flagstaff City Council member Rick Lopez personified this attitude when he posted the following on Facebook:

“I would suppose the recent events of this past week might make this issue (revisiting the party ordinance) a little bit moot.”

This sentiment was echoed by many others in conversations around town, on social media and of course by the local paper. The perception being that the new tougher ordinance language is critical to stopping crime. This view is completely false but it plays into people’s kneejerk emotional reactions and many party ordinance supporters are running with it.

Those opposed to the new overreaching law are now branded as being completely against any form of nuisance ordinance. I have been asked by several people on social media why I feel their right to sleep at night is not as important as people’s right to gather. I respond by saying the previous ordinance already took care of noise problems and the new language was not needed. To which they say, wait, I was under the impression that you wanted to repeal the noise ordinance completely.

This misrepresentation is showing up more and more and is being used in a purposeful way to smear critics of the new party ordinance language.

So let me be clear: having been part of the opposition to the new language from the start, I can assure you that nobody I talked to had a problem with the previous nuisance party ordinance that was on the books. There has been no push to get rid of Flagstaff’s nuisance ordinance completely.

Ordinance critics had a handful of specific changes they wanted to see to ensure people’s rights were protected. Those changes include:

1. Raise the number of persons who constitute a party back to 15.

2. Remove all mentions of citations for indirect disturbances to the peace and safety of the public. (In other words, if you are not directly responsible for a disturbance you should not be fined).

3. Lower the probationary period back to 90 days.

4. Clearly define what criminal activity one must commit to receive a ticket for a party ordinance violation.

Seems pretty reasonable to me.

There is an important discussion that needs to be had and my hope is that the Flagstaff City Council can see through the intentionally misleading smears and realize there are genuine problems with the new ordinance language that need to be addressed.

  1. Sacredpeaks
    October 18, 2015 at 11:01 am

    Elisha, Who initiated the idea that the ordinance needed to be rewritten? What does the Crime Free Multi-housing program entail?

    • October 18, 2015 at 11:27 am

      My understanding is that the Flagstaff Police Department initiated the idea that the ordinance needed to be rewritten. Some info on the crime free multi housing program can be found at the link below:


      • Sacredpeaks
        October 18, 2015 at 3:05 pm

        Elisha, I would think people would also have some concerns about the lack of due process that is waived upon being required to sign the lease agreement addendum shown at the link below. You do not even have to be convicted of a crime for it to be enforced. Is this a requirement for all rental units in the City of Flagstaff? Is the City Council aware of this?


        On another note, (if you have not already been informed ) there is another new global UN initiative moving forward called Strong Cities. Have you or the City Council been contacted about this?

      • October 18, 2015 at 3:29 pm

        Within the past couple years council passed an ordinance requiring future student housing complexes to be part of the Crime Free Multi Housing program. Other rental units can sign up voluntarily and many have already. Tenants of those properties have to sign the lease agreement you link to. I have heard a little about Strong Cities but I have not seen discussion in Flagstaff about it yet. I wouldn’t be surprised if it shows up soon.

  2. October 18, 2015 at 11:40 am

    Here is another link with interesting information regarding both the party ordinance and the push for more participation in the crime free multi housing program:


  3. October 18, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    And one more interesting article (there are many out there) showing Flag PD pressuring The Grove to join the program:


  4. Jake
    October 18, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    I have several issues with the current party ordinance. Though not an exhaustive list, here are a few of my concerns:
    1) It was spawned and penned by the police department, not city council or a citizens group or commission. At the same time, the police had more than adequate tools to shut down any loud party before the implementation of this ordnance.
    2) It has an unreasonably small threshold of 5 individuals that constitute a “party”.
    3) It allows for coercive financial tactics which may be selectively applied at the discretion of law enforcement (i.e. escalating fines for property owners) allowing for at least the appearance of favoritism and cronyism.
    4) It promotes unsafe behavior of party attendees. As was noted in Sunday’s Daily Sun, party goers are now scattering when the police show up, likely to avoid $250,$500, or $1000 fines. I actually predicted as much would happen.
    5) Ancillary to #4 above is that there will now be more tension between students/young people and police, and a reduced likelihood of people calling when a party is starting to get out of hand. It is now likely that at least some people will wait until things get more raucous before making a call.
    6) It has created an antagonistic relationship between the city and a number of student groups, which will likely continue to escalate as the ordinance is applied.
    7) I opens the city to completely unnecessary litigation (similar ordinances in other municipalities have had that result)

  5. October 18, 2015 at 4:49 pm

    Cops and the socialist City Council in cahoots? Whodathunkit? Totalitarianism makes for strange bedfellows. Little Commissar-wannabes. Flagstaff is truly Californicating — a beautiful place overrun with statist pricks.

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