The West Hollywood City Council voted Monday to amend its curfew law to conform with the laws of the City and County of Los Angeles, both of which recommended the change as part of a countywide effort to crack down on the number of crimes committed by juveniles.
The council voted 4 to 0 to revise the ordinance. Mayor Alan Viterbi was absent.
The amendment makes it a misdemeanor for anyone under 18 to "loiter, without lawful purpose, about the public streets, avenues, alleys, parks or other public places" between midnight and sunrise unless accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or spouse over 21.
City Atty. Michael Jenkins said the old law prohibited minors from loitering in public places only after they were closed, such as a public park after 3 a.m. or the parking lot of a business establishment. It did not include public streets, sidewalks or other areas.
The change was recommended by the County Board of Supervisors and the Los Angeles City Council, which initiated a strict enforcement of its curfew law in September in an attempt to curb gang-related violence and drug abuse among minors.
Jenkins said that the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, which contracts with the City of West Hollywood to provide law enforcement, also urged the council to revise the ordinance.
"Basically, the sheriff asked us to conform our language with that which is in the county code," he added.
The only difference now between the city code and county code is the time the curfew starts, Jenkins said. Although the county law goes into effect at 10 p.m., the West Hollywood ordinance will not start until midnight.
Councilman John Heilman said that West Hollywood, which is home to relatively few minors, revised the law "as a courtesy to other cities in the the county."
No Real Juvenile Problem
"The sheriff indicated to us that we don't really have any problems with minors loitering," he said.
Sheriff's Capt. Mark Squires said: "Our intent is not to enforce it to the extent of the City of Los Angeles. We don't have a gang problem; that was the original thrust behind it. We don't have anything that even remotely resembles that."
Still, Squires said, "the previous ordinance was inadequate and largely unenforceable," and the new law will enable the city to take action if it needs to.
Jenkins said the maximum penalty for violation of the curfew ordinance is a $1,000 fine or one year in the county jail.