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No major Mardi Gras-related problems expected tonight, SLO police say

San Luis Obispo police officers attempt to disperse thousands of Mardi Gras partiers on California Street east of Foothill Boulevard on Feb. 22, 2004.
San Luis Obispo police officers attempt to disperse thousands of Mardi Gras partiers on California Street east of Foothill Boulevard on Feb. 22, 2004. The Tribune

San Luis Obispo police say they aren’t concerned that the party will get out of control tonight despite it being Fat Tuesday, a day once notorious for partying in downtown San Luis Obispo.

No additional officers will be out on the streets, according to police Capt. Chris Staley. “We haven’t had any major issues with Mardi Gras in the last two or three years,” Staley said.

In 2004, the city adopted a "safety enhancement zone" ordinance — which allows the city to double fines for various offenses — in response to that year's Mardi Gras celebration. On the Saturday night of Mardi Gras weekend that year, a crowd of about 5,000 partiers gathered at California and Foothill boulevards after police broke up large parties at nearby apartment complexes. As officers tried to disperse the crowd, some of the partiers hurled beer bottles and rocks. Nearly 200 people were arrested over the weekend.

Since the ordinance was enacted, the number of arrests during Mardi Gras has dropped significantly, and violations such as open containers, noise and urinating in public have all declined.

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