Our movement against the Social Host Ordinance was founded May 6. Since then, it has grown from a handful of students to almost 700 members, all of whom are signed onto the Facebook group in which we are organizing future protests.
We are against the bill for a variety of reasons, and want to make it expressly clear that we do not condone teen drinking or the parties that will occasionally spring up in the area.
We view the ordinance as harmful to the youth of Laguna because it will drive the issue of teen alcohol use further into the shadows, as it has done in several other cities. In Santa Barbara, when a similar ordinance was enacted, teens stopped calling the police or the paramedics when a friend passed out from alcohol poisoning.
This ordinance will make kids and parents even more afraid of the police, something that could very well cause the death of a student at LBHS.
Because Emerald Bay (a primary site of heavy partying in Laguna) lies on unincorporated land, the new ordinance will have no practical application there, as it is not part of Laguna Beach.
This means that one of the heaviest areas of teen drinking will not be touched by this law at all. This ordinance will not stop teen drinking; it will move it to areas where these laws hold no jurisdiction.
Even if alcohol-consuming teens do not have access to a gate community, they will find places to drink. This ordinance could drive teens to parks and beaches. As one of our leaders Adam Redding-Kaufman said, “Alcohol and the ocean do not mix.”
Finally, our movement is also suspicious of how these laws will be enforced. Though our police chief claimed at the last City Council meeting that searches of private residences will still be carried out within the confines of the law, it’s hard to believe that this ordinance will not extend police power any further than it already is.
We have what could arguably be considered one of the most active police forces in any town, and we do not believe that giving them more tools to hassle the populace will accomplish anything.
There is already a 10 p.m. youth curfew in place in our city. This was done to target teen drinking and partying; however, it has done nothing to fight teen drinking.
If anything, it has actually hurt the police and City Council. The curfew and the constant harassment of Laguna Beach High students have created a pervasive distrust in the police force, something that needs to be overcome in order for tangible progress to be made in this issue.
The main goal of our movement is to educate Laguna teens as to the meaning of this law. Most LBHS students have either no idea what this ordinance entails or, even worse, a warped vision of what this law is, the likes of which could lead them to rash action.
Currently, we have several events planned to oppose this ordinance. We will be protesting the City Council meeting on May 15, at which meeting sample ordinances will be presented to the City Council.
We have been distributing flyers at school and online. There are also several plans for “passive demonstrations” at school, but these are currently in the planning stage.
Our primary objective is to make the City Council reconsider this bill. However, if this does not work, we plan on distributing pamphlets and flyers giving students instructions on how to circumvent the ordinance and how to conduct themselves around police officers, should their house ever become the target of suspicion.
Written by Andrew Landsiedel; supported by Adam Redding-Kauffman and Macklin Thornton