FROM: Your fellow Pack Backer

RE: Neighborly advice about the PROP

CC: Folks at Shaw, St. Aug’s, Meredith and Peace

It’s great to see you back in town and, as I know you are, charged up about another great year of academic progress ahead. Raleigh’s just dull in the summertime when most of you aren’t here. I always look forward to that first abrupt, exciting lane-change in front of me on Hillsborough Street, or electrifying dasher through traffic on Western Boulevard, that tells me the fall semester’s about to begin.

Since most of you live off-campus (not that the Big U. doesn’t want you around, it just doesn’t have any housing for you), and in one or another of our West/Southwest/Southeast Raleigh neighborhoods, I thought perhaps you’d appreciate a heads-up about Raleigh’s new PROP. No, that’s not short for “proper respect,” although it could be, come to think of it. Actually, it stands for “Probationary Occupancy Rental Permit.” And therein lies a tale.

Over the years, as the Big U. grew and grew, more and more students took up residence in the city and an industry emerged–the rental housing industry. I’m not talking about big complexes like University Towers or the apartments down Avent Ferry Road. I’m talking about the thousands of older, smaller, formerly one-family houses that’ve been converted into rentals for up to four students. (Four students who sign the lease, anyway. Your “guests” don’t count.)

These older houses are in Avent West and University Park and the other neighborhoods around Big U., which means they’re in close proximity to other older houses occupied by people who are, not to put too fine a point on it, not students.

Now, what’s the difference between people who are students and people who are not?

If you said iPods, I’m afraid you’re not paying close enough attention. We all have iPods now. No, it’s drinking. Specifically, it’s how we–respectively–drink.

As in so many other things, adults go at it slowly and get soused in private. Students, as you know, are the opposite.

It’s that phenomenon of public drinking I want to address here, briefly–the fast, loud public drinking that goes with the fast, loud music which, much as I myself love it, too, I don’t love at 2 or 3 in the morning the way I used to. (I won’t get into the fact that, back in olden times when I was in a U., our vices were of the soft, mellow, giggly persuasion. We were stardust–but that’s another story entirely.)

Anyhow, you’re gonna find that your non-student neighbors aren’t down with the same stuff you are, and they really don’t care to hear from you at all after midnight–exception, of course, for a big win by the Pack over one of those blue teams we hate. That’s good ’til 1.

So now, the PROP. It’s a new city ordinance, as of this year. It’s not aimed at students. It’s aimed at your absentee landlords who don’t keep up the property, don’t have any place for y’all to park except on the lawn, and–here’s where the drinking comes in–don’t care if you’re loud and unneighborly because, of course, they’re not there to hear it–they live in the ‘burbs somewhere.

Short and sweet, if your landlord lets the property go to hell, or lets you, the tenants, violate the city’s noise ordinance or the nuisance party ordinance twice within 24 months, then he’s put on “probation” and it costs him $500 for his probationary permit (his PROP).

(Nuisance party ordinance? It’s just what it sounds like.)

And, if your landlord lands in the PROP “program,” he’s gotta go to counseling on how to do better, which you know he’s gonna hate.

And, if he gets a third violation within the next 24 months, he could lose his PROP and not be allowed to rent the property for two years. Which is really gonna frost him.

So, what’s this to you and me?

To you, if you find yourself renting from a slumlord, good chance you can nail him with the PROP. Check it out on the city’s Web site,

On the other hand, if you’re the reason he’s in the PROP, good chance there’s something in the fine print of your lease that puts it back on you, you know? Check that out too.

As for me, just keep it down when us old folks are sleeping, OK?

Honest, I love y’all, and if Raleigh had to depend on people my age for its energy, it’d be dull as dishwater.

But there is a limit to how much excitement us non-students can stand.