By Karyn Brady
A SUNY Buffalo State athletic team vice president boasts on Twitter, “The movie ‘Neighbors’ is an actual depiction of my life right now.” The comedy’s conflict centers around a young family outed by police for complaining about a disruptive fraternity party hosted by their new neighbors.
For those living near Buffalo’s campuses, the “Neighbors” plot line sadly mimics reality, including the vile retaliation for defending your investment. The self-entitled, anti-social, often criminal behavior is far from funny. More outrageous than this movie is the reactive, half-hearted response we saw from our city government and universities over and over again.
Simply enforcing city ordinances could send a powerful message. Inadequate police response perpetuates the belief that our neighborhoods are drunken playgrounds.
This myth insulates student consciences from the damage they are causing and hardens the mindset: “Why people try to raise their families in college neighborhoods blows my ----ing mind, just go away!”
Take, for example, the block where student rentals representing only 7 percent of the households logged 56 percent of the noise complaints, 30 percent of the criminal mischief calls and 33 percent of the juvenile trouble calls. Add in calls where the chaos spread to neighboring properties and the figures are much higher.
The Common Council could pass the nuisance abatement law proposed by former Housing Court Judge Henry Nowak. This program allows citizens to independently bring complaints of disruptive neighbors to Housing Court even when there is no underlying inspections violation.
While successful in other cities, the Brown administration finds empowering communities troubling. “We have licensed employees who are certified to inspect properties. Maybe some people who are frustrated by the process may not like how things go at times, but this is their profession. To suggest we open it up is a bit troubling,” said Peter Cutler, spokesman for the mayor.
Our universities could do more. Buffalo State would finally sanction the aforementioned team, but it would take almost a year, and the undue burden to identify the students and document the behavior was placed on the neighbors.
In other communities, the university and police work together to prevent parties and investigate complaints. In Buffalo, partyers are actually bused in and the onus falls on neighbors to prove their case as a prerequisite to relief.
Successful policy adopted in other cities demonstrates what can be accomplished when there is a true commitment to quality of life, but as the recent editorial summed it up, “rowdy students get to commandeer neighborhoods.”
Karyn Brady is the president of the Bird Avenue Block Club.