Baltimore County Councilman David Marks on Wednesday announced that he will introduce legislation requiring violators of the county's rule against unruly social gatherings to complete any required community service locally.
Under current law, judges may order offenders to pay fines of $500 or $1,000, depending on whether it’s the first, second or third offense, and order up to 48 hours of community service.
Currently, that community service can be completed anywhere in the county.
The bill Marks intends to introduce at the county council meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 18, would require the community service to take place within 2 miles of the unruly social gathering. Marks said he hoped the bill would be able to take effect by the start of the spring semester for local colleges in January 2019.
“There are a lot of needy organizations within striking distance of where these incidents occur. For example, the Towson Chamber of Commerce often needs manpower to beautify and clean downtown Towson,” Marks said. “The idea is we would require those who are engaged in unruly disturbances to give back to the communities they impact.”
The council first passed the bill in 2016 as a way to deter “unruly social gatherings” in parts of the county that are near three big college campuses — Towson University, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and Goucher College.
The areas covered under the ordinance in the southwestern part of Baltimore County are those surrounding UMBC that are bounded by Sulphur Spring Road in the south, East Drive and Leeds Avenue to the east, Maiden Choice Lane to the north, and Wilkens Avenue to the north and west.
In the central part of the county, all of the Towson police precinct is subject to the ordinance.
According to data collected by the Towson Communities Alliance — formerly the Greater Towson Council of Community Associations — there have been 12 complaints made against addresses in the Towson area for disorderly conduct during the 2018-19 academic year so far.
Four addresses have so far been given a first warning and four addresses of students have lead to student conduct charges, according to the records.
County Councilman Tom Quirk, whose district includes UMBC, said he would vote for the bill. UMBC students are “pretty good,” he added, and he had not heard of many instances of the social host ordinance used in the area around the campus to deter unruly gatherings.
The penalties for violating the social host ordinance target both those hosting the unruly gathering and the property owners — a tactic meant to address living situations in parts of the county where students live in homes or units in which the owners do not live.
On the first violation, the responsible person is subject to 20 hours of community service and a penalty of $500, and the property owner is given a warning notice; on the second violation, the responsible person is subject to 32 hours of community service and a $1,000 fine, and the property owner is subject to a $500 fine.
On the third violation, the responsible person is subject to a $1,000 fine and 48 hours of community service, and the property owner is subject to a $1,000 fine and potential suspension or revocation of their rental license.