Tucson council to consider red tag fee increase

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- Anyone who partied too hard over the holidays may have paid the price in fines and gotten a red tag on the door.  But soon the Tucson city council will consider increasing the costly consequences of a loud and unruly gathering.

They're bright, highly visible and maybe a little embarrassing.  Red tags are posted when Tucson police determine a party is out of control.  The stickers must remain in the window for six months.

"It's really intended to be a warning to people to let them know a certain noise level or level of disruption will not be tolerated," said Councilwoman Karin Uhlich.

Uhlich says the colorful badge of shame comes with a price, about $100 for the first offense.

On Wednesday she will ask fellow council members to support raising the fines for repeat offenders.

"We're looking at doing something that's fair but also encourages responsibility and full accountability," Uhlich said.

More specifically, she wants developers of so-called mini-dorms to be accountable for the actions of their multiple renters.

"Thursday and Friday nights we'll see more cars and more people out," said resident Zach MacDonald.

Zach MacDonald is a Jefferson park resident who was involved in the movement to keep mini-dorms out of his neighborhood. He lives across the street from one.

He believes hefty fines will discourage disruptions.

"A hundred dollars for the red tag as it stands is low.  So, I think increasing that amount is a good idea whether it's on a first or second offense.  I think it has to be fairly extreme to get a red tag anyway, so why not," MacDonald said.

MacDonald admits his mini-dorm neighbors are pretty quiet.  But putting the pressure on landlords, he says, might prevent any future unrest, "If somebody wants to keep that group dwelling in a neighborhood like this they have to make sure they have a handle on things like red tags."

Uhlich says she would also like police to track repeat offenders.  Right now an initial violation expires in six months, but Uhlich wants fines to get more and more expensive with each violation under that property owner.