The City Council approved a new ordinance this month making it a crime to put hate literature, targeted at any group, in food packages.
There have been no reported incidents of hate literature being placed in food packages in Agoura Hills, but there have been several incidents in other areas of Los Angeles County.
"It's important to have the community make a statement that we will not tolerate anti-Semitic, anti-minority discrimination, that we will not tolerate hate literature in our community," said Councilman Dan Kuperberg, who spearheaded the effort.
The new ordinance will make it a misdemeanor to put literature that ridicules a group--because of race, beliefs or religion--into food containers in grocery stores.
A county law already makes it a crime to put such literature in school lockers, but until recently it was not against the law to place such literature in items found in grocery stores in the city.
Kuperberg said the issue came to his attention nearly two years ago when anti-Latino messages were put in local school lockers.
About nine months ago, anti-Semitic messages were placed at random in mailboxes throughout Agoura Hills.
The county ordinance covered those acts, but did not address similar leaflets placed in food packages in grocery stores.
"Someone could walk into any grocery store in Agoura Hills and insert this garbage in a product," Kuperberg said.
"There are laws against putting poison in them and tampering with them. But if they put hate letters in boxes, there was nothing that could be done about it," he said.
The motion to enact the ordinance was approved unanimously on a first reading at the Dec. 18 council meeting.
Kuperberg said the city has since received letters of support from several local groups, including the Conejo Ministry Council, an organization of religious leaders.