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Laguna Beach moves closer to passing social host ordinance

The Laguna Beach City Council agrees to move forward with a controversial law that penalizes parents who allow minors to use alcohol and drugs in their homes.

November 19, 2012|By Joanna Clay, Los Angeles Times

After hearing from about 40 residents, the Laguna Beach City Council agreed last week to move forward with a controversial law that penalizes parents who allow minors to use alcohol and drugs in their homes.

The so-called social host ordinance, which was sent back to city administrators for minor revisions, would require first-time offenders to take an alcohol-awareness class and levy $1,000 fines for subsequent misdemeanor-level offenses.

If passed at an upcoming second reading, Laguna Beach would become Orange County's fourth city to pass such a law, following Irvine, Laguna Hills and Mission Viejo. About 100 California cities have similar laws, according to Laguna Beach Police Chief Paul Workman.

Many speakers who addressed the council opposed the law, which they say doesn't properly address the larger issue of teen drinking and drug use.

Opponents also asserted concerns about the law sidestepping 4th Amendment rights that protect against unreasonable searches and a decrease in necessary 911 calls because callers would be afraid to alert police because adults could be held accountable.

"We do not support minor drinking, but we don't think it's helpful to burden the police with the role of parenting our children," said Glenn Rogers, a vocal opponent.

Sarah Koops Vanderveen, who called the law "anti-family and anti-community," alleged parents serving alcohol to their kids would be able to evade detection while parents who don't know alcohol is being served on their property would be punished.

Michael Maxsenti, a local coach, said the ordinance would protect children from irresponsible parents.

"What this ordinance addresses is the fact that you as a parent have the right to deal with your children," he said.

County Supervisor-elect Todd Spitzer, Orange County Deputy Dist. Atty. Anna McIntire, the Community Coalition and a representative from Mothers Against Drunk Driving also spoke in favor of the ordinance.

joanna.clay@latimes.com

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