Grace Yao introduced herself as the new LMU Director of Community Relations. Ms. Yao stated that LMU has done a poor job of communicating with neighbors regarding community issues, particularly with regard to parties and parking. Ms. Yao sees this communication process as an ongoing dialogue. She believes that it is important that she is accessible to neighborhood groups such as KHG and to the neighbors personally and is happy to address concerns and questions. She drives the streets every day to see what’s happening and she is learning about what LMU does to address these issues.
Question from audience: What is the status of the parking and party situation?
Ms. Yao: LMU continues to get many calls about parties. Students who live off campus are required to register with the university at the Department of Off-Campus Student Life. LMU knows where every student lives. LMU strongly encourages residents when there is an incident to call the LMU Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the LAPD. When you call DPS they will usually dispatch a public safety officer who later submits a report, but it is also important to call LAPD because they have enforcement power: they can cite and arrest.
The LMU DPS cannot cite and arrest students, they submit reports. Neighbors may not know that LMU DPS is there because they don’t engage with property owners (neighbors); however, they will engage sometimes with the students. If they are called to a party location, they will park their car and count cars and students and observe their behavior. They may approach the students and ask questions. They turn in their report the next day. LAPD will also submit a report to LMU. LMU has a very cooperative relationship with LAPD. LMU then determines what action to take against the student(s). Information directly from neighbors keeps LMU better informed and allows them to follow up with the neighbors later.
Comment from the audience: I am familiar with certain universities that I have been associated with and there were certain hours where there was a cutoff for parties of 1 am on weekends and an earlier hour on weeknights. It was very simple to enforce because the rule was very clear.
Students had to register prior to having a party (a party was defined as more than 20 people) and were required to let campus security know who was giving the party and the address, date, and hours. The students were required to hire a security guard if the group was larger than a specific number. Campus security would not wait for a call from neighbors or a police report, they would proactively drive by the party locations sporadically during the evening, and the students knew they would be observing. The students and campus security knew that when it’s 1 o’clock, it’s over. It seems that LMU could take the same approach that is taken in this example by Tulane University, where students also live in expensive residential neighborhoods.
Ms. Yao: Ms. Yao stated that she thought this suggestion was a good idea and she would look into it. She stated that LMU has asked the LAPD for an “MOU” which is an additional LAPD patrol for the area, but the status of this request is unknown.
Mr. Davis called for a show of hands from the audience (approximately 80 – 100 members) regarding the suggestion that LMU require student registration with the LMU Director of Off-Campus Student Life before hosting a party. The audience unanimously approved of this idea.
Question from the audience: Are there written rules regarding student off-campus behavior? What are the consequences for breaking these rules? May KHG post these rules on their website so that all the residents will also be aware of the LMU standards of student behavior?
Ms. Yao: Ms. Yao stated that there are consequences, however, LMU has done a poor job of following up with residents who have called to register a concern. Each year LMU issues a student handbook and there are a number of provisions for off-campus student life. The university’s position is that although some students do not live on campus, if they break local, state, or federal law, they are representing the university, and there are severe consequences. All of these matters are referred to campus Judicial Affairs. Ms. Yao said she would be happy to share with KHG a copy of the LMU Student Handbook.
Off-Campus Student Life and Judicial Affairs are cracking down a lot harder on student misbehavior. One of the things they are doing is deferred suspensions. If a student is cited, the first time fines are imposed and possibly LAPD seminars. The second time, the student(s) may be placed on deferred suspension which means that even a small infraction could result in suspension.
Question from the audience: What are the contact numbers for LMU?
Ms. Yao handed out magnets with LMU contact information (see below). Ms. Yao encouraged members to contact both DPS and LAPD in the case of serious misbehavior, or in the case of parking issues, LADOT parking enforcement. She asked that members contact herself or her colleague, Andy O’Reilly with regard to litter in yards and streets near LMU rentals or property damage by students.
Question from the audience: A member asked Ms. Yao if she was aware of a 5-squad-car party that was held on Stewart Ave by a fraternity over MLK weekend, which was followed by a 2-squad-car party one month later on Presidents’ Day weekend. While DPS was there several hundred students came over 15 minutes.
Ms. Yao said she was aware of these parties. She gets the reports and reads all of them. Repeat offenders receive very severe penalties.
Question from the audience: What were the consequences?
Ms. Yao answered that she does not know what actions were taken against individual students because of privacy considerations. The policy is that the punishment should fit the crime.
Question from the audience: If you don’t know what the specific consequences are, how do you know that anything is actually being done?
Mr. Davis stated that Kentwood residents should not be victims of the LMU process. Neighbors should get IMMEDIATE responses to complaints and accelerated resolution of issues.
Comment from the audience: Tulane University takes a proactive approach to head off problems before they develop. They require students to register before the party and the campus security drives by to monitor specific locations.
Mr. Davis: What is LMU doing to alleviate the parking problem which has resulted from LMU charging high fees for parking on campus?
Ms. Yao: Students must “opt out,” must actively select to not pay for parking, or it is automatically added to their tuition bill. As a result of this recent change, 500 additional cars registered to LMU. The streets right next to LMU still have problem, but opt-out is moving some on campus.
Also, ATIP incentivizes students to minimize trips to campus. LMU has a bus that goes back and forth to the Green Line. If students show proof that they are biking, walking, or going by van pool or car pool, then they get 5 free parking passes. This encourages students to not bring cars on campus.
Ms. Yao discussed the Neighborhood Advisory Committee Meeting (NAC) which had been held the week before. She said that she will look at suggestions and have answers at the LMU website to the questions and proposals from that meeting. She said that the next NAC Meeting will be held in May.
Mr. Davis said that KHG will distribute this information to KHG members.
Question from the audience: Are the owners of rental properties held accountable for the misbehavior of their student renters?
Ms. Yao said that LMU does not know who the owners of the properties are. When there are problems, LMU is unable to inform the owners, though if LAPD are involved the owners will be required sometimes to go to court with the student renters.
Suzann Rogers stated that in the past, if the neighbors inform the KHG Office about a problem with LMU rental property, KHG will send a letter to the property owners so there is no confusion about when or if the property owners were notified.
Mr. Davis pointed out that a letter from KHG can be used as a record to enforce civil nuisance laws in a complaint against the property owner. He recommended that neighbors notify the KHG Office regarding problems with LMU rental properties.
Question from the audience: Is LMU planning to build more parking garages? Does LMU currently meet the municipal code requirements for parking spaces?
Ms. Yao: LMU is currently building a new life sciences building with 208 spaces. LMU currently meets code municipal code requirements for parking. The documents verifying this are posted on the LMU website.
Ms. Yao asked that residents keep her informed of neighborhood concerns. She may be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.