SLO approves curfew for minors in law sought by police

Two council members vote ‘no’ because of concerns about fines and parental responsibility

acornejo@thetribunenews.comMay 3, 2011 

A nighttime curfew will soon take effect in San Luis Obispo making it illegal for minors to be in public places without adult supervision late at night.

The San Luis Obispo City Council voted 3-2 Tuesday night to approve the new law. Council Members Kathy Smith and Dan Carpenter voted against it. Smith was concerned about what she characterized as punitive fines. Carpenter dismissed the entire ordinance, saying it was the responsibility of parents.

Crafted by police Chief Deborah Linden, the law will prohibit almost anyone younger than 18 to be in public places from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. on weekdays and from midnight to 5 a.m. on weekends without an adult. It will not apply to college students.

Until Tuesday night, San Luis Obispo was the only city in the county that did not have such a law already in place.

The law was needed, Linden said, to assist officers in intervening before crimes are committed by youth.

The curfew was first proposed two years ago along with a handful of other new ordinances meant to curb excessive partying and unruly gatherings throughout town. Opposition to the new law was expressed Tuesday by a handful of residents.

“I don’t think it is up to the City Council to tell us what time to be home by or when to go bed at night. It’s our parents’ job to do that,” said Peter Lee, a 17-year-old San Luis Obispo High School student.

Others supported it, one person saying that it would help offset high truancy rates at school.

Exceptions include minors who are: on an errand for a “responsible” adult; going to or returning from a job; on the sidewalk abutting their home; attending a school, religious or recreational activity; emancipated by law; or going to or returning from a private place without stopping.

First offenders will be fined $100 and/or given 10 hours of community service. The fine would max out at $250 and/or 25 hours of community service for youth who are cited three or more times. Parents or guardians of those youth may also be cited if they knowingly allow their minor to violate the curfew.

Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939. Stay updated by following @a_cornejo on Twitter.

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