If you plan on hosting a BBQ or party in the spring (or any season for that matter), your first concern should probably be avoiding the $800 fine from your friends at the Eugene Police Department and the city of Eugene.

Hopefully this isn’t coming as news to you, but hosting an “unruly” party is a criminal offense in Eugene. The definition of an unruly party or gathering is intentionally loose, the main concern being consumption of alcohol and excessive noise. In order to be deemed unruly, a party must first have alcohol consumption (check). Once alcohol’s presence has been confirmed, there is a laundry list of items that help you turn your fun in the sun barbecue into a crime scene. You must meet at least two of the following qualifications in addition to alcohol consumption:

  • Illegal sale, service, possession or consumption of said alcohol (i.e. underage or public drinking/intoxication)
  • Assault
  • Menacing
  • Harassment
  • Intimidation
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Noise disturbance
  • Criminal mischief
  • Public urination/defecation
  • Littering
  • Illegal use of fireworks (fireworks may only be used between June 23rd and July 6th)

Some of these items are somewhat up to interpretation, and the key to avoiding a whole legal ordeal is keeping up relations with your neighbors, because they are the ones who would call in a noise complaint. If a neighbor says they want your party shut down by 11 pm, shut it down by 11 pm. They have as much say in how your party goes as you do. If the party gets out of hand, calling the police is probably your best option. If you call it in, you probably won’t get fined. If you don’t want to call the cops on your own party, practice being courteous and remorseful in front of a mirror.

As far as fire safety goes, don’t be stupid. Different properties have different policies regarding grills or campfires. Speak with your landlord before starting a bonfire in the front yard, as well as the Eugene Police Department. Fire is fun, but also dangerous (duh) so practice good fire safety. Before starting any recreational fire, check the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency website for their daily update on home wood heating in case of a cease burning notice. Also, while it is sometimes okay to have a recreational fire (think BBQ or firepit) and to burn wood for heat in your fireplace, it is never permissible to kindle a “backyard burn” (AKA a bonfire) in Eugene or Springfield city limits. So, you know, there goes that idea. It’s pretty hard to hide a bonfire.

If you have any questions or concerns, the social host ordinance is posted on the Eugene Police website along with a pretty simple and concise explanation.

The point of the ordinance, and the main argument that made it law, was to encourage neighbors to be respectful of each other. If you live in west campus between two live-outs, you may not even need to warn them when you’re about to throw a rager. If you live with your parents in deep west Eugene, you should probably give your elderly neighbors a heads up, and maybe bake them some cookies.