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Newsletter > November 2009 > "ZONING COMPLAINT AT UC-BERKELEY"
ZONING COMPLAINT AT UC-BERKELEY
Tim Burke, Manley Burke, firstname.lastname@example.org
On October 28, 2009, representatives of some 30 recognized fraternities at the University of California Berkeley were notified by the Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life that the Berkeley City Manager had received letters from an attorney who represented that he had “been retained by a number of residents of the City of Berkeley.” The letter sought action by the City to “abate the continuing public nuisance created and maintained by the inhabitants” of each of the fraternity houses. The Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life pointed to the Berkeley Municipal Code that provided for a private right of action permitting any resident to seek injunctive and compensatory relief to remedy a public nuisance. That local ordinance requires that before an action can be brought by private plaintiffs, the City must be given 30 days’ written notice and the opportunity to pursue the matter itself. The University is not a party to the action, but simply sought all appropriate parties of the attorney’s letter.
The attorney’s letter, claiming that each of the fraternities constituted a public nuisance, made 17 different allegations, including disturbances of the peace, public drunkenness, underage drinking and public drinking, harassment of passersby, littering, noises, smells and fumes, public urination, fireworks, large parties, refusal to comply with state laws and city ordinances, and excessive attention required from Berkeley police and fire officials.
These are serious accusations and will have to be treated as such by the fraternities involved. There are likely to be further developments which Fraternal Law will follow.