The San Luis Obispo City Council voted to ease a proposed nighttime curfew Tuesday after hearing criticism from the community that the new law was too stringent.
The curfew, which will make it illegal for anyone 15 and younger to be in a public place without adult supervision late at night, was originally intended for all youth younger than 18.
However, the council voted 3-2 Tuesday to pass the ordinance with the new age rules. Because the ordinance has been revised, it must go to the council again for a final vote before becoming law.
Council members Kathy Smith and Dan Carpenter voted against the ordinance in its entirety.
“I think that government has a tendency to want to control people, and I don’t think that is what government is there for unless someone is doing something that does impede on someone else’s freedom,” Smith said. “I’m going to be looking really close at any new ordinance that comes forward.”
Public criticism about the ordinance centered on profiling all youth as potential wrongdoers and marginalizing them from public places.
Crafted by police Chief Deborah Linden, the law will prohibit almost anyone younger than 16 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.
The council also decided Tuesday to take a more lenient approach toward the fines given to youth who violate the new law.
First time offenders will now be issued a warning instead of paying $100. The fine will max out at $200 and/or 20 hours of community service. Parents or guardians of those youth may also be cited, up to $500, if they knowingly allow their minor to violate the curfew.
Chief Linden has said the law is needed to assist officers in intervening before crimes are committed by youth.
The ordinance will be used as a tool to send a clear message to youth and help keep them safe, she said.
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.
Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939. Stay updated by following @a_cornejo on Twitter.