A tough citywide ordinance designed to crack down on crime and noise at teen dance clubs has been proposed by Los Angeles City Councilwoman Joy Picus.
The ordinance was unveiled during a press conference last week. It would restrict clubs that cater to teen-agers under age 18 from operating after 10 on week nights and after midnight on weekends and holidays, Picus said. It also would call for stricter adult supervision and require that patrons show proof of age to be admitted, she said.
Picus said the ordinance would give the city a stronger hand in dealing with clubs such as the Odyssey, a West Los Angeles club that was closed in February after a nine-year neighborhood battle, and Phases, a club that has been a source of more recent complaints in the west San Fernando Valley. Both clubs have allowed 16- and 17-year-olds to dance until 4 or 5 in the morning, she said.
Controversy over the Odyssey, the Westside's only teen dance club, came to a head when the city Police Commission revoked its dance permit after hearing complaints of teen-agers drinking alcoholic beverages, using drugs, making noise and urinating outside the club at 8741 Beverly Blvd. The club was severely damaged March 29 in a fire that investigators say was arson.
"Bars for adults close at 2," Picus said. "Why should these places be open until 4 or 5? I can't think of anything positive a teen-ager can do there between midnight and 5 in the morning."
Proof of Age
Picus said portions of the ordinance, submitted Wednesday to the city's police, fire and public safety committee, would require dance-club managers to check proof of age before admitting teen-agers, report abuses of drugs or alcohol to parents and the police department, and provide at least one adult supervisor for every 35 teen-agers.
In addition, people under 18 would not be allowed in the dance clubs without written parental consent, signed in the presence of the club owner or manager, Picus said.
The ordinance is closely patterned after pending legislation by Assemblywoman Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) and would toughen an existing city law that had been challenged by the Odyssey as vague and unenforceable, Picus said. The current city law, upheld last month in Los Angeles Superior Court, requires the dance clubs to close every night at midnight.
"It just seemed time to stick it to them," Picus said, calling her proposal a quicker crackdown than the pending state legislation, which could not become law before Jan. 1. "I didn't want to wait to see the fate" of the state legislation, she said. "I should be able to get mine through . . . in maybe six weeks to two months."
Councilman Zev Yaroslavsky, who argued for the closure of the Odyssey, said the ordinance would help prevent new teen dance clubs from becoming a problem on the Westside, where mobile and affluent teen-agers provide a ready clientele for such establishments. He said school administrators throughout the area had reported plummeting grades and test scores and student discipline problems while the Odyssey was in operation.