Ames City Council authorizes increased penalties and towing ordinances for 801 Day weekend

“801 day” is an annual day of partying across Iowa State University and Ames. 

Amber Mohmand

The Ames City Council voted to authorize the enhanced penalties for nuisance party violations during 801 Day weekend. 

Beginning 5 p.m. Aug. 19 until 4 a.m. Aug. 21,  the fines for nuisance party violations will increase from $100 to $650, a $550 increase, for first time violations as well as subsequent offenses from $200 to $855, a $655 increase.  

“We believe that that is not a sufficient deterrent, for a lot of the behaviors that we see on this particular weekend, the Saturday before classes begin,” Ames Police Chief Geoff Huff said at Tuesday’s meeting. “And so we’re asking to use the enhanced penalties for this weekend.” 

The Council also authorized the immediate towing of illegally parked vehicles on Aug. 20 — 801 Day — in designated areas around the perimeter of Campustown and sorority and fraternity housing. 

It’s a response to too many cars parked illegally making it difficult or impossible to get emergency vehicles through, according to Ames Police. 

Huff said the police department began the process of educating the people in the area near Campustown and surrounding neighborhoods about the new ordinances. He also said he’s having the department go door-to-door during the Good Neighbor Program, a few days before Cyclones Welcome Weekend. 

The main goal is to get the word out early, Huff said. 

“If they’re going to have a party wanting to have a responsible party,” he said. “We definitely want people to engage in more activities here that don’t involve alcohol … So that’s our hope but we do try and do a lot of education before enforcement and enforcement is always going to be that last out.” 

Originally, the ordinance was proposed to deter students from engaging in “risky behavior” on the Saturday before classes begin. But now that 801 day has increasingly become a destination for people from out of town, complaints from residents in the area have also grown, according to city documents. The fine amount proposed was $750 for first-time offenders and $1,000 for subsequent offenses to try and deter students and out-of-town visitors to Ames from engaging in said behavior. 

“Our hope is we don’t have to use this,” Huff said. “We put that tool in the toolbox but I still hope we don’t have to use it at all, but you know, we’ll see what happens.” 

A nuisance party is defined in section 17.30 of the Ames Municipal Code as “a social gathering or party which is conducted on premises within the City and which, by reason of the conduct of those persons in attendance, results in any one or more of the following conditions of events occurring at the site of the said party or social gathering, or on neighboring public or private property: public intoxication; unlawful consumption of beer, wine or alcoholic beverages in a public place; outdoor urination or defecation in a public place; the unlawful sale, furnishing, dispensing or consumption of beer, wine or alcoholic beverages; underage or unlawful possession of beer, wine, or alcoholic beverages; the unlawful deposit of litter or refuse; the damage or destruction of property without the consent of the property owner; unlawful pedestrian or vehicular traffic; standing or parking of vehicles that obstructs the free flow of traffic on the public streets and sidewalks or that impedes the ability to render emergency services; unlawfully loud noise; fighting; or, any other conduct or condition that threatens injury to persons or damage to property is hereby declared to be an unlawful public nuisance.” 

If a party becomes a nuisance, the police can order an immediate cease and dispersal. 

“​​Generally speaking when we get a complaint or when we see things developing, we give them a chance to clean it up themselves,” Huff said. “So our officers will stop out and basically tell them, ‘you’re headed towards a nuisance party, the way things are going, you need to clean this up and you need to do it pretty soon.’” 

Those who refuse or fail to obey the order are guilty of violating the section, according to the Ames Municipal Code. 

In Tuesday’s meeting, Ward 1 Rep. Gloria Betcher along with Ward 2 Rep. Tim Garten, Ward 3 Rep. Anita Rollins and At-large Rep. Amber Correri voted in favor of the resolution while Ward 4 Rep. Rachel Junck voted no. 

Ames Mayor John Haila, At-large Rep. Bronwyn Beatty-Hansen and Iowa State Student Government Ex officio Bryce Garman did not attend the meeting.