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FLASHBACK: The 2007 SDSU Mini Dorm Controversy

Wow, after digging through some OLD drafts that I wrote during college and never posted, I came across this.  This brought back A LOT of memories about living in the good old college area.  We were always having the cops show up for noise complaints from Thursday – Saturday nights.  It seemed to be the neighbors only course of action, to call in a trumped up noise complaint and waste police time.  The cops would show up, we’d invite them in and they would see a group of people watching a movie or shooting pool, and say “carry on”.  We were even on a first name basis with some of the officers and used to invite them in for dinner when they showed up on a noise complaint call…  If anything this is an interesting read about an issue that I’m sure is still going on in the neighborhoods surrounding SDSU to this day.  I remember being really mad about the whole thing because I was interviewed for the paper and was misquoted, etc.  I’d be interested in hearing from some current SDSU students and see if this stuff is still going on?

The SDSU Mini-Dorm Controversy

And Why It Makes Me Mad…

By Ian Grist
ian [at]

*UPDATE 5/23/2007*

Another article about the first people to receive fines from the CAPP program. What a joke. They have already started the appeals process, and we will soon find out that the fine is just another scare tactic that won’t be enforced. Maybe this will show homeowners that there really isn’t much they can do about this area…the city will either get rid of the fine, or it will be adjusted down to $500 per person or something more reasonable (if that is even reasonable). I just can’t wait to hear the comments from people once they find out that the city isn’t going to enforce this rule…

My Comment:

I have documented this issue for the past two years, and it is now all over at

I lived in the college area for 3 years, just moved out of it a month ago, and have seen this go from a slight problem to an all out war. There is merit to both sides, but the bottom line is…homeowners have buried themselves. They have put as many restrictions on partying and “Mini-dorms” as they could come up with, but now you see homeowner writing in saying he can’t expand his property because of a new city ordinance limiting the number of bedrooms to stop mini-dorms…these idiots have now shot themselves in the foot so they can’t legitimately expand their own properties!

And you want to invoke these harsh $1000 fines to everyone who makes noise at any time inconvenient for you! Well…that is a great idea in practice, but when the judge lowers their fine down to $500 per person or waives it completely and gives a warning…the complaining will be nonstop. Did everyone miss the fact in the above article that THE COPS WERE JUST GOING TO ISSUE A WARNING ANYWAY! If it weren’t for some drunk guy mouthing off, they wouldn’t have recieved any fine and your $1000 scare tactic would be worthless.

Seriously I lived in CAPPed houses for three years, had recieve over 150 cop visits over those three years and NEVER RECIEVED ONE TICKET OR FINE! EVER! We even made dinner for some of the cops because we knew them.

You “mature” adults are fighting a losing battle. I love seeing this story unfold.

Check out my site, I have documented everything

Here are some comments posted on that article:

I can’t beleive it! students having a birthday party until 1230 am, accross from the campus…shocking!!!! Let’s lock them up for like 3-4 years..that will teach them. $1000 fine each, no way let’s fine them 10,000 each.

I think we should continue to ignore the gang members, the 250,000 illlegials who drain our hospitals and impede education for our children, stop looking into corruption that has cost our city billions of dollars, turn a blind eye to insane amount of car thefts rapes, murders. Lets definitly do nothing about the fact our county has a 5% affordibility factor……….AND LET’S GET THE STUDENTS!!!!…WE’LL SHOW THEM, WE’LL HAVE TOWN HALL MEETINGS, AND WE’LL FINE THE CRAP OUT OF THEM, AND WE’LL THROW THEM IN JAIL THOSE BASTARDS, AND THE POLITICIANS WILL GRANDSTAND ENDLESSLY UNTIL WE GET RID OF ALL STUDENTS, THE LAST PLACE THOSE BASTARDS BELONG IS A COLLEGE AREA!!!!!!!.

I’ve got to agree with elements346. This whole noise argument is like complaining about the airplane noise when you live near an airport. When you live within a few miles of a big college, regardless of what the rest of the neighborhood looks like, you are going to deal with college students. If you didn’t realize that before you moved there, maybe you shouldn’t be talking trash about an SDSU education. Oh but that’s right, you were all moral, law-abiding, upstanding citizens at 19.
Back to the article itself, I don’t see why the girls were fined specifically for showing disrespect towards the officers when none of them had anything to do with the door slamming. I tihnk the more appropriate charge would be something along the lines of underage drinking, minor in possession, or something of that nature. I guess those are probably hard for the police to get to stick. Should the party have been broken up? Yes. Are these girls making fools of themselves? Yes. Is $1000 per person a bit excessive? Yes. But I got to taste first hand in high school the whole making an example of someone. It happens, that’s life. Have your precious birthday parties at TGIFriday’s next time.

It would be interesting to see how many of these “residents” are property owners or renters. Cheap rentals are found around SDSU. You get what you pay for. On a weekend night, I don’t think 12:30 is too late. People in my neighborhood have parties later than that (if they’re good!) in Clairemont and I’m 30. As long as we pretend that people above the age of 18 don’t drink, unless your in the military (because if you kill people you should be able to drink for self medication I guess?), then they are forced to gather in private residences. $1000.00 is crazy. That’s almost tuition for a semester and a whole lotta kegs! And mommy and daddy paying for college? I think thats a hasty generalization. Most kids I know take student loans and grants and WORK. Drinking is a part of college, like it or not. Vague regulations need to be inforced consistently. “Noise violation is considered one of our most invasive violations.” Really? I could think of a few more invasive…can you? Don’t live in that environment if you don’t like it.

Party poopers, please don’t move to Hillcrest! On numerous Fridays or Saturdays, I have had parties that go past 12:30 a.m. Sometimes my neighbors do too, eeks!
Look, you people have made your neighbors endure countless hours from your kids screaming all day long. In the 70’s & 80’s everyone would throw block parties and people dealt with it. This time around, it’s not your party so it’s too loud and too crude.
Chill out, cross the street and join the fun. If they don’t want you there, then call the cops.

Just think about how many more parties there will be if they ban alcohol at the beach. So during summer people will have to worry about parties during the day as well as night. And i’m sure many of the supporters of the ban also support these fines for parties. Just b/c some homeowners are getting old doesn’t mean the neighborhood is going to change to accomdate their wants. People who moved to College Area or PB when they were in their 20’s or early 30’s and now that they are older they want everything to accomdate their needs. Selfishness and self interest works both ways; it’s not just students that are selfish with their reckless behavior but homeowners as well that want everything to revolve around what they think is right and proper. People should think about where they live a little more carefully. It’s amazing to hear Mission Beach and Pacific Beach residents complain about alcohol, out of town tourists, and such. What the hell were you expecting living there? What the hell were “COLLEGE AREA” residents expecting? People need to live their own lives and let other live theirs as well. College kids partying is nothing new nor will it ever go away. And the students didn’t decide where the SDSU was going to be located but homeowners in the area decided where they were going to be located. Don’t blame the students just b/c some of you didn’t think about the area you would be living in.

Getting back to the outrageous fine that somehow is “inferred” that thier parents, if they have them or a relationship with them, will pay. A college kid makes at a part time job at say liberally $10/hour. 100 hours of work = 12.5 days at eight hours. Almost half a month. This fine is a death sentence for those that don’t have “rich” parents. And the arbitrary method the police use to fine these people? How about if you are caught speeding the officer could say….you were going 80 but I thought it was a fast 80…you get fined more. I respect the police and they have a really difficult job but I’ve had experiences with some real assholes which is evident in the latest conviction of the officer demanding sex. It has to be consistent across the board. Let’s fine all the tenants at all parties and suck the life out of the university and city. In reality, I think community service is a better option. Kids learn a lesson and have to do crappy work for a week. A second offense would justify $1000 fine. I just don’t know how you can justify a $3000 or $5000 fine for a party with loud noise. It would severly disrupt my families ability to live.

*UPDATE 5/18/2007*

Another article published in the Union Tribune about this issue. Finally sheds some light on the Student’s perspective, but still doesn’t really do them justice. Kind of makes me mad that I went through all the hassles of coordinating interviews, etc with the same author, and still wasn’t taken seriously in that previous article.

Someone recently asked me why I still keep up with this issue even though I am not a student anymore. Well I think it goes to show that even though I don’t even live there anymore as of a couple weeks ago, I still support the students right to live how they need to live in that area. Yeah, I grew up and moved out of the College area…maybe the current homeowners there should do the same thing. If I’m just 24 and had the common sense to move, I don’t see how they view things so black and white at a much older age. Regardless, I’ll continue posting updates as much as I can…I hope people take interest in the student’s side at some point.



One of the letters I have received from people emailing the Union Tribune and Daily Aztec. Thank you for helping!

From: ***************

Sent: Friday, March 16, 2007 1:22 PM

Subject: Mini-Dorms

That is unfortunate if the residents of the college area can’t understand why “mini-dorms” are happening. With the cost of school, and I just read yesterday that there will be a 10% increase in fees next year, and the cost of renting a single apartment or home, while trying to work and study on their own, or even with parental assistance, how do people expect these students to live? Do you realize that a class book can be over $100, a parking pass $130 twice a year last I knew. I have a student attending SDSU and another at UCSC. Someone needs to wake up and smell the fertilizer emanating from the state school systems.

Regina Ragland

Mobile, AL

*UPDATE* 5/12/2007

*UPDATE 5/10/2007

College area homeowner idiots back on the warpath. Such hypocrisy.

  • The Editorial Comment They Printed That Really Pissed Me Off

    • The piece on mini-dorms was more notable for what was shown in the pictures than what was said in the article. Featured was a picture of a female student hoisting a glass of wine with her roommates. Well, most college students are below the legal drinking age and, while I cannot pretend to know this young womans age, your photograph is very irresponsible.

      There have been a number of multiple fatalities in the last year involving drunken college students. When I went to college there were four to six hours of studying to do after dinner, and alcohol does nothing to increase comprehension nor retention.

      If I were the president of SDSU, I would  or should  be embarrassed to see the student body portrayed as a bunch of party animals majoring in the fine arts of wine consumption and online computer games shown in your other photograph. You have certainly managed to reinforce the stereotypes already associated with San Diego State University that of an academic institution sorely lacking in academics.

      Your pictures show why normal residents in these neighborhoods are fed up with it. Party animal college students with cars parked all over the streets do not mix well with most residents. Particularly for people who have invested their lifes savings and a significant part of their monthly incomes in their mortgages, only to see their neighborhoods destroyed by the selfish, self-centered, irresponsible and immature behavior of the college students shown in your pictures.

      San Diego

After the Mini-Dorm article was published in the Union Tribune, people started writing in to the Letters to the Editor section with their comments. This really infuriated me because I wasnt even given much credit in the article, yet these people writing in with completely ignorant opinions were published in full. Please read the original article and then the editorial comments in the links above, and then my response below:

Since its obvious how legitimately my views were taken in print, I’m hoping that some more reasonable adults can be educated by reading this online. Not to mention that 99% of what I said in the phone interview with Ms. Saavedra was not even mentioned in the print article.

First of all, I have to respond to the above editorial comments by Mr. David Cox: The selfish, self-centered, irresponsible and immature behavior of the college students shown in your pictures. – What, exactly is selfish, self centered, irresponsible or immature about anything in the above pictures? I see 4 people having a community meal together, enjoying each others company after a long day of school, work, and studying.

Well, most college students are below the legal drinking age and, while I cannot pretend to know this young womans age, your photograph is very irresponsible– This is possibly the most ridiculous, inane comment I have ever heard. There are 6 people that live in our house, ALL of which are over the legal drinking age. What would possibly lead you to believe that anyone was not? To preface it by saying you know that most college students are below the legal drinking age really just goes to show how out of touch you are with the current college culture THAT YOU ARE COMPLAINING ABOUT. Most students take over 4 years to graduate, I myself just finished 5.5 years of school, graduating at the age of 24. And no, it was not due to excessive drinking, the schools I have attended have been completely IMPACTED making it very hard to get the right classes to graduate.

When I went to college there were four to six hours of studying to do after dinner, and alcohol does nothing to increase comprehension nor retention-This is the only thing in your entire letter that you were correct about. There still IS four to six hours of work after dinner, but where you differ from us is that we can RESPONSIBLY enjoy a glass of wine before hitting the books. I can hardly expect you to understand this since there is nothing in your letter to even qualify yourself as someone who ever attended college, all I can assume about you is that you are another disgruntled homeowner mad at seeing his property value drop as the houses around you are rented by students.

If I were the president of SDSU, I would  or should  be embarrassed to see the student body portrayed as a bunch of party animals majoring in the fine arts of wine consumption and online computer games shown in your other photograph.– Apparently when (or if) you attended school, any form of relaxation or entertainment was strictly out of the question. Let me clarify something for you, sir. You are NOT the president of SDSU, nor do I think you have any association with the school for that matter. Your letter shows nothing but your ignorance about the college you are so desperately trying to discredit. I just graduated with an Information Systems degree from one of the top business schools in the country, and SDSU is turning out more qualified and distinguished graduates than many other schools, but the farthest your generation can see is that it houses them in “Mini Dorms”

Your letter, Mr. Cox, is the only selfish, self-centered, irresponsible and immature example of behavior regarding this entire issue. I offered the paper the opportunity to take pictures of my home to show that, contrary to what you would believe, we DO NOT live like animals packed in a”mini dorm”. 6 of us live comfortably in a large house with ample room. Not that your comments would make us seem so, but we are human beings that enjoy living in a clean and responsible environment.

What I would like to see, for once, is the homeowners in the area make a significant effort to bridge the gap between college students, rental home owners, and themselves. Instead of writing editorial comments like the ones above, or holding their City Council “clubhouse” meetings, do something that can satisfy all parties. A regular argument I hear to that is we hold city council meetings to discuss the issue, but students never show up, they obviously don’t care about the issue. This is completely ridiculous. Do you ever wonder why students don’t show up to combat the ridiculous charges against them? You hold the meetings around YOUR OWN SCHEDULE with no regard to the parties you want to attend. I have always wondered if this was done on purpose to discourage students to show up and portray their own side of things. It’s like if students got together and had a meeting about the issue at midnight every Thursday night. How many homeowners would attend? Would it be appropriate of us to assume you didn’t show up because you didn’t care? I would like to see the homeowners have the motivation to attend a meeting after being in class since 8am, in and out of the library 4 times during the day, working a 6 hour shift and then heading back to the library for a group meeting until 11 BEFORE even starting any form of homework, and then making it on time to a meeting where their voices would be IGNORED anyway. The hypocrisy of this situation just makes me furious every time I think about it.

I guess the blame isn’t 100% yours, Mr. Cox, for being so completely naive in your outlandish comments. I don’t credit the newspaper with printing a very unbiased article. I was interviewed multiple times by Ms. Saavedra, and she took down a lot of information from me. I was actually under the impression that there was a genuine interest in portraying the students side of the story. After all, we are the ones forced to pay ridiculously high rent to live somewhere convenient to access the school. I didn’t know how wrong I was.

Homeowners portray themselves as the victim in this issue, but does any one care to see the other side? Since it appears most of my words and opinions were lost in Ms. Saavedra’s interview, maybe I can get a few of them across in here:

First, a little bit about myself. I’m 24, and just graduated from SDSU with a BS degree in Information and Decision Systems. I made into and through the ridiculously impacted Business Program, and now work as a  CRM Administrator for the #5 fastest growing privately owned business of 2006 in San Diego, and an Award Winning software company. I work on the top floor of our building in downtown San Diego, and yes, I still live in the college area. During school I also was a member of a Professional Business Fraternity on campus (It is a business organization, focused on Resume development and interviewing skills, not a social fraternity as I’m sure Mr. Cox would have anyone believe), and am now an active Alumni. I have lived in the college area for three years, all of them in “mini dorm” type housing. Hopefully those credentials establish me as someone who can give a valid opinion about this entire situation, having experienced ALL aspects of it.

Second, this term “Mini Dorm” really makes me angry. They won’t admit it, but it is a term intended to degrade and devalue students living in rented housing around the college area. They know, I know it, everyone knows it. Why do we feel this way? Well, you live in the dorms as a Freshman, on campus. I have not lived in any dormitory style housing except for my freshman year of college. I find it offensive that “adults” (I put it in quotes not because I don’t consider myself an adult, but because I don’t want to group myself with these selfish, self centered homeowners who criticize me) use this term. I live in a home, I pay for ALL of my rent, as do most of my roommates, without any help from parents or anyone else. I pay ALL of my utilities. I pay my car insurance, I pay for EVERYTHING I have including my big screen tv, classic car I am restoring, the wine glasses I booze out of and even the computer I play games on all the time and am typing this on. I am in no way a freshman or involved in any sort of “dorm” lifestyle. I consider myself, and am considered, a completely self sufficient, responsible adult. So please, refer to us as “renters” or “young adults” even, but we definitely do NOT have anything to do with a “dorm”.

Third, I am not writing this response to say we are not to blame, or that we have no responsibility in the matter, because we all do. There are always two sides to every issue, and years of disrespectful college students have perpetuated this issue up to the point it is at now. However, that is not to say that we don’t have rights as well. Read the response I wrote to my landlord below. What gives angry homeowners the right to accuse us of things that are completely FICTIONAL. Why am I made to justify myself to police and others just because I am a recent college student, and a renter! The one mention I had in the article, about police calls being trumped up is completely true. My letter below is further proof of it. Kareoke machines! Riots! Amplified Instruments! These are completely FALSE based on what! An angry neighbor wanting police to respond at their every beck and call. I’m sorry if we aren’t on the same schedule, but what gives you the right to call the police if I want to listen to my music at 10pm because you go to sleep at 9, when you can wake up at 6am and begin construction on your house and I want to sleep! Apparently we have no rights in this situation, because time and again, Police show up for a noise complaint based on completely fabricated charges. Who are the immature people in this situation, I ask you?

Which brings me to my next point, the CAPP program. The “College Area Party Plan”. What exactly are the rules of the CAPP program, one might ask? Well, good luck finding out. I have lived in CAPPed homes for the entire 3 years I have lived near SDSU. This is a tactic of homeowners to scare renters into thinking that they have NO rights at all, and can be arrested at any time. A house can be capped if it receives a certain number of noise complaints in a period, or if a group of 5 neighbors in a certain radius sign paperwork agreeing that the house is a nuisance. This is another example of our rights being stripped away. What they don’t tell you is that the CAPP stays with the house. This means that since most rental houses in the college area are already CAPPed, chances are you are going to be moving into one. Technically (found out after speaking to the SDSU CAPP officer for our area) the CAPP can be lifted by proof of the landlord showing he brought in new tenants to solve the problem. We jumped through these hoops when we moved into our current house, which was already capped by the previous tenants. But it was to no avail, every time we called or had our landlord call, it was necessary to talk to someone else, or call at a different time. I have lived with this for three years and come the the conclusion that YOU CAN NOT GET THE CAPP OFF. We have toyed around with the idea of getting some other students in nearby rentals to band together and attempt to CAPP a neighbors house, but you see how seriously they take any of our complaints.

These Cop-calling neighbors have grown so used to filing a noise complain at the slightest sound, that the police really don’t seem to take it seriously any more. Plus, noise complain calls get routed out to the closest cops nearby, which can either be SDSU police, or mid city cops. Most thurs-sat nights they are so busy busting frat parties and other issues, that by the time they actually show up to check on a suspected noise violation, there is nothing going on. In addition, the Mid city cops never know if a house is CAPPed, and are completely unfamiliar with the area. This is not to admit we are doing anything wrong however, the normal noise complain visit from the police is for having 10 people over to shoot some pool, or even watching a movie too loud. We have grown accustomed to seeing a cop car pull up out front, and all we ever do is invite the police into our home to see that there is nothing going on. In three years and at least 50 visits from the police, I nor my roomates have ever been issued a ticket, citation, or anything more than a verbal warning. The police never want to come in, usually seem annoyed that they had to show up to another false noise complaint call, and just tell us to please be quiet. Why are our rights continuously violated! Not to mention that this is a complete waste of taxpayers dollars! Police need to be out arresting DUI’s and people that are actually doing harm to our society, not students trying to relax after a long day of school and work! In that “riot” call that a neighbor called in on us, the police had to send out a helicopter to circle our house! THERE WAS 15 PEOPLE PRESENT. What a waste!

I hope these thoughts have shed some insight into the situation that is going on around SDSU. This is in no way strictly the student or renters fault as people like Mr. Cox would have you believe. We are humans too, and deserve equal treatment and rights under law. I have to return to Mr. Cox’s quote because I just don’t think I can say it any better.

Who is being more selfish, self-centered, irresponsible and immature than the people accusing us of it? Watch out when pointing fingers, Mr. Cox, I think you have forgotten that there are three fingers pointing back at you.

-Ian Grist

  • HELP!

  • If you want to help, please give your opinion to the Union Tribune! Students voices aren’t heard over the complaining of College Area Homeowners. Help me do something about it! I want this in the UT and in the Daily Aztec! Please HELP!
  • Letters Editor, The San Diego Union-Tribune, Post Office Box 120191, San Diego, CA 92112-0191, faxed to (619) 260-5081 or e-mailed to
  • The Daily Aztec
    San Diego State University, BAM-2
    San Diego, CA 92182-7800
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