For now, there will be no ordinance drafted to ban the storage of beer pong tables on University Hill front yards, as city leaders moved Tuesday night in favor of simply talking it out.
Last month, Councilman and Hill resident Andrew Shoemaker expressed interest in forcing the tables off of the student lawns where they tend to reside for months on end, often adorned with empty cans and plastic cups. Boulderites have lost faith in the city's ability to address basic neighborhood nuisances, he said, and removing these eyesores could be one easy way to start reversing the perception of weak enforcement.
At the council's meeting Tuesday night, City Manager Jane Brautigam said that such an ordinance — which would be very similar to an existing rule banning couches from Hill yards and patios — would not take much time or effort to draft.
But Brautigam presented a different solution, in which the city's neighborhood relations and code enforcement staff perform outreach and education to all invested parties, returning to the council this fall with a better understanding of the root issues of the beer pong table storage issue.
University Hill students, residents, landlords and property management companies will all be engaged, in the hopes that the matter can be resolved peacefully and without the threat of fines.
A survey will go out to nonstudent residents, a staff memo to the council read, "designed in a manner that describes the game of beer pong and some of the dynamics surrounding how it is currently played in the neighborhood."
The survey should offer insight on some of the most critical front-yard beer pong table-related questions of the day: Do these residents care more about the tables themselves or their placement on lawns? Would they feel better if the tables were of higher quality and more traditionally appropriate for outdoor use? Do they generally care about this issue at all, or is Shoemaker speaking purely for himself?
The council, including the chief crusader himself, was happy with Brautigam's plan.
"I raised an exploratory issue, which boiled down to the simple concept of cleaning up after a game of beer pong," Shoemaker said. "But based on the feedback and the proposal from staff, I don't think it's time yet for an ordinance."
The alternative route agreed to on Tuesday allows the city, he said, to "try to address all the underlying issues surrounding this."
Jen Riley, the city's code enforcement supervisor, will lead the effort along with neighborhood liaison Amanda Nagl.
"An ordinance is always an option," Riley said, "but what this approach is trying to do is to get everybody that's involved in the discussion to have a chance to say something about it, to find out what the actual problems are and not make assumptions about how people are impacted by this."
Should the outreach determine that an ordinance is, in fact, needed, she added, the community feedback will make that measure stronger than it would be now.
"If this does come back in the form of an ordinance," Councilman Aaron Brockett offered, "I think we should decide whether or not to pass it with a game of beer pong."
Alex Burness: twitter.com/alex_burness