St. Patrick’s Day partying results in some citations, arrests

St. Patrick’s Day revelers got an early start Saturday morning in San Luis Obispo, with house parties in the neighborhoods around Cal Poly starting as early as 4:30 a.m., police said.

By midmorning, “several” alcohol-related citations and arrests had been made, San Luis Obispo police Sgt. Jeff Booth said, although exact numbers weren’t available by late afternoon. Several citations for noise violations also were issued at party houses, Booth said.

Groups of young people, many decked out in green for what Cal Poly students traditionally refer to as “St. Fratty’s Day,” clustered in yards or on the sidewalks in the residential neighborhoods around California and Foothill boulevards as police cars cruised the area during the sunny morning hours.

The scene was much quieter than a year ago, when about 3,000 people gathered for a March 7 St. Fratty’s Day party on Hathway Avenue at dawn. At least eight revelers were injured that morning when more than 50 people climbed on and collapsed a garage roof.

“It was a little better this year,” Booth said, “because we didn’t have one big party.”

No injuries were reported, he added.

Students in the neighborhood also said the parties were quieter. And while there were more police visible, they were mostly “just sort of making their presence known,” Cal Poly student Griffin King said.

“I think it was a lot mellower this year,” Cal Poly student Brennan Ronald said. “There weren’t any roofs collapsing. People were out this year, but I think it was a lot more tame.”

This year, San Luis Obispo police added extra officers to patrol the area, Booth said.

“We had night-side officers who stayed on and day officers who came in early. We also brought in extra staffing,” he said.

Anyone getting a citation this week faces stiff penalties. The city’s Safety Enhancement Zone Ordinance doubles municipal fines for low-level crimes such as drinking in public in the days around specific holidays, including St. Patrick’s Day, which is Thursday.

In the wake of the St. Fratty’s Day debacle, the city and Cal Poly approved an agreement allowing campus police to enforce city laws within a 1-mile radius of campus.

The city also beefed up its “unruly gathering” law. Previously, party hosts could be cited for gatherings of 20 or more people where public drunkenness, fights, blocking of streets, vandalism, littering or underage drinking occurred. The law was expanded so that partygoers also could be penalized.

Janet Lavelle: 805-781-7931, @janet_lavelle