Students learn what it takes to follow the rules

Published: Thursday, February 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, February 1, 2007 at 2:11 a.m.


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  • A group of University of Florida students were told Wednesday to keep it down, not to share a house with more than two of their friends and not to park on the grass.
    They were at a program designed to inform students about city codes and the rules they need to live by as residents of Gainesville. The event was sponsored by UF's Off-Campus Life, a department that provides off-campus UF students with services such as an apartment locator, contact information and guidelines for safe living. About 30 people attended the information session, which included a panel of people from the city's code enforcement office and the Gainesville Police Department, free food and a time for students to ask questions about the rules of the city.
    "The point of this meeting is to inform students about current codes and code changes," said Nora Kilroy, assistant dean and director of Off-Campus Life. She said many students have had questions about what is and isn't allowed within city limits.
    The panel was composed of Mike Wohl and Lorie Podolsky, of the city's code enforcement office, and GPD Officer Shannon Wallace-Giles. Each addressed different topics relevant to off-campus residents.
    The main issue addressed was the change in the noise violation probation period.
    As of Nov. 1, there is a 365-day window that opens when a first-offense warning has been issued for a noise violation. That period previously lasted for 90 days.
    The city's noise ordinance defines a noise disturbance as any sound that disturbs a reasonable person of normal sensitivities or a sound that is plainly audible, which means that a noise can be heard 200 feet from the property line of the source of the noise.
    The 365-day window applies to subsequent violations. If a civil citation is issued within the probation period of the initial warning, fines are implemented.
    Currently, there is a $125 fine for a first-offense civil citation, a $250 fine for a second offense and a third offense requires a court appearance and a fine of up to $500.
    A new 365-day period opens with each new citation.
    "Be respectful of your neighbors," said Wallace-Giles. "You are temporary in an area of permanent people. You need to be a good, peaceful resident in their area."
    A noise violation can occur from 10 p.m. until 8 a.m.
    The same citation policy extends into other areas of code enforcement. The fines are also the same, but they could change within a year pending approval from the City Commission.
    Wohl reviewed the policy of maximum occupancy, which allows up to three unrelated persons to live in the same single-family home.
    For an apartment, the limit on persons is based on a per-square-foot basis.
    There is a 150-square-foot requirement for one person living in an apartment, and there must be 100 square feet for each additional person in the unit.
    Podolsky also addressed parking within the city limits.
    "You cannot park on your yard if you live in a single-family home in the gray area," she said, adding that parking is enforced seven days a week, lifted on game days and reduced on Sundays.
    The "gray area," otherwise known as the University of Florida Context Area, can be roughly described as the area south of NW 8th Avenue, northeast of Interstate 75, and northwest of Williston Road.
    Wallace-Giles said cars can be parked in the roadways, facing the direction of traveling traffic, as long as emergency vehicles can pass.

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