Editorials

Roof law won’t stop dumb antics

Eight young people were treated at local hospitals for injuries sustained at a party on Hathway Avenue near the Cal Poly campus when a roof collapsed early Saturday morning. Two people were treated for intoxication. Cal Poly is investigating the incident. 

(Photo by Laura Dickinson, The Tribune)
Eight young people were treated at local hospitals for injuries sustained at a party on Hathway Avenue near the Cal Poly campus when a roof collapsed early Saturday morning. Two people were treated for intoxication. Cal Poly is investigating the incident. (Photo by Laura Dickinson, The Tribune) ldickinson@thetribunenews.com

It was dumb luck that no one was seriously injured last weekend when a garage roof collapsed beneath nearly 50 college-age celebrants attending a huge, pre-St. Patrick’s Day bash.

The collapse of the roof in a residential neighborhood near Cal Poly made national news; spawned all manner of disparaging jokes directed at Cal Poly and its “learn by doing” philosophy; and further strained town/gown relationships.

In the aftermath, San Luis Obispo Mayor Jan Marx floated the idea of an ordinance that would declare roofs off-limits to partying — and almost everything else. If her proposal flies, roofs could be accessed only for installation and maintenance projects.

To be blunt: We hate the idea, especially since the city already has plenty of rules and regulations aimed at curbing out-of-control partying and promoting “neighborhood wellness.”

Do we really need another law that spells out what people can and cannot do on the roofs of their residences?

If San Luis Obispo residents want to safely and quietly sit atop the roofs of their own homes to look at the stars or enjoy the view on a warm day, should they have to risk paying a fine?

We don’t believe so.

While we understand and share the mayor’s frustration, the city cannot pass an ordinance to cover every conceivable scenario.

If it goes down that road, what’s next? No backyard hot tubs because drunken students might drown in them? No trees over a certain height because, after imbibing a few too many, students might climb them, fall out and break their legs?

We believe it makes more sense to tighten up enforcement of ordinances already on the books, rather than add yet another law.

Again, last weekend’s event could have ended far more tragically than it did. No one wants a repeat — for the sake of students and their families, for the sake of Cal Poly, and for the sake of neighbors who deserve more respect.

But rushing to pass another nanny-state law that affects the entire city is not the answer.

Unfortunately, all the laws in the world will not stop drunken people from doing stupid things. Instead, we urge the city and the university to closely examine what happened; analyze what went wrong and what went right; and develop a plan to ensure that existing regulations are swiftly, efficiently and fairly enforced.

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