Published: April 5, 2023

One of the most common causes of students living off campus receiving a ticket is from parties that violate Boulder ordinances. Party-related citations can range from not picking up your trash to excessive noise or nuisance parties. A nuisance ticket may result in a hefty fine and mandatory restorative justice courses. Here are some tips to lower your chances of getting a nuisance ticket at your Boulder residence.

Introduce yourself to neighbors

If you live off campus, introduce yourself to your neighbors and get to know them. Download and fill out these contact cards from Off-Campus Housing & Neighborhood Relations (OCHNR) to share with your neighbors or stop by their office in UMC 313 to pick up hard copies. Be sure to let your neighbors know if you plan to host a party in advance. This can give them the option to reach out to you with any concerns or issues before calling the police. 

Register your party

When you register your party with OCHNR, you are more likely to get a warning if the police are called about your party. Once you’ve registered, the police will call you with a warning if they receive a noise complaint and you will have 20 minutes to shut things down. Plus, party registration is free! 

Registering your party doesn’t guarantee you won’t get a ticket, so you will also want to take steps to ensure the police don’t get called. You can learn about those steps during the in-person orientation program that you need to attend to complete your party registration. Contact the OCHNR office for additional information.

Watch your noise

If the police are called to your residence, it is often because of excessive noise. In the city of Boulder, you may be ticketed for unreasonable noise at any time of day. Unreasonable noise is defined as amplified sounds that can be heard from more than 100 feet away between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. and more than 200 feet away between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. Amplified sounds include music played on speakers, instruments played with amplifiers or speaking with a microphone or megaphone.  

Make sure any music or other noise is happening inside the house and not in your yard where it may disturb your neighbors. This includes speakers in your window. If you have speakers in your windows, they must face inside. You can also download a decibel measuring app (check out Decibel X) to see how loud your gathering is. Noise should not exceed 50 decibels from 11 p.m.-7 a.m. and 55 decibels from 7 a.m.-11 p.m.

Clean up your trash

Boulder code enforcement starts early in the morning. Make sure you clean up trash around your residence immediately after any gathering to prevent getting a ticket. Be sure to secure your trash on your property either in bear-proof containers or inside—even leaving a trash bag next to the trash can or dumpster could get you a ticket. Make sure to properly dispose of trash in trash or recycling bins even when not on your property. You can get free trash bags from OCHNR by stopping by their office in UMC 313.

Picking up your trash is even more important now that the Boulder City Council recently passed an ordinance that adds a civil violation to the city’s trash violation process. The ordinance makes it easier for police officers to issue you a trash citation. Under the previous process, residents would receive a warning to clean up their trash by a certain deadline. If the violation was not fixed in time, an officer would have served the resident a criminal summons, which needs to be received in person and signed by the resident.

The new civil process still includes a warning to clean up by a certain deadline. However, instead of an officer needing to serve you a criminal summons in person, they can post the civil citation on your door or email it to your landlord. This change saves time for officers and makes it easier to deliver a citation. The new process also established new fines:

  • $100 for a first offense
  • $250 for a second offense
  • $500 for a third offense

Reach out to OCHNR or Student Legal Services (SLS) if you have any questions about this change. If you follow the ordinance and clean up your trash, you’ll reduce your chances of receiving a citation in the first place.

Invite people you know

A good way to keep a handle on your party or gathering is to only invite people you know. This makes it easier to take responsibility for your party and communicate any issues to your guests. Remember that you are responsible for what happens at your residence. As a host, you can be found responsible for guests and their actions, including actions that would warrant a nuisance ticket. 

Reach out to OCHNR if you have questions about nuisance tickets.