I Go, You Go, L.U.G.O

I Go, You Go, L.U.G.O
By: Nicholas A. Dunlap, CPM
So just what is a loud or unruly gathering (LUGO)? Well, it depends on the Newport Beachpolice officer who reports to the scene and decides that you should not be detained, arrested or cited for your conduct, but that you as a tenant and your landlord should be fined for your actions.  Over the past year, the LUGOor Loud or Unruly Gathering Ordinance has earned the City of Newport Beach over $55,000 in revenue and has eliminated the expense (that we as taxpayers pay for) of having uniformed police officers do their jobs.    
Before we go any further, please understand that I am a strong supporter of law enforcement and I think that most cops are hard working, honest and respectable people who do a very difficult job well.  But in Newport Beach, this overreach by local government has many people feeling shaken down.  You see, as landlords, we cannot be held vicariously liable for the actions of our tenants.  Taking the appropriate steps to attract, screen, lease to and educate on house rules is the extent of our responsibility.  However, the authorities in Newport Beach have likened the landlord/tenant relationship to, brace yourself, “dog-bite law” in that property owners are held responsible for the actions of a third party. 
To remedy the situation, the property owner has two choices.  They can either eat the escalating fine that starts at $500 and works its way up to $3,500, or, they can spend on average between $800 to $1,500 to evict the tenant for their conduct and hope that they do not get countersued by the tenant for wrongful eviction.  Let’s face it.  At some point in our lives, we have all had neighbors who wished that we would just shut the music off, or the game off, or have the band leave or have the people leave, but does that justify an eviction? Talk about headaches, an eviction will last on your record for over 10 years.  So you see? Newport Beach has you cornered.  It is cheaper to pay their fine and move on.  The city knows this and continues to shake property owners down. 
This overreach is reflected in that the City of Newport Beach recently dedicated a vehicle and two officers to be the LUGO team.  This means that they are coming out to fine you for certain, no ifs, ands or buts.  Follow the logic and you see that no owner should be fined on the first instance of a party occurring at a property they own unless they are in fact present and helping to promote or exacerbate the issue.  And even then, what happened to the police coming to the property to ask firmly to “keep it down” or “shut the music off”.  In most cities across OC (Anaheim, Fullerton, Orangeor Santa Ana) this is what happens.  But if Newport Beach must fine owners and tenants, could they not start on the second time or after both have been previously notified?
Of course they could, but they would lose out on $1,000 a pop.