Courtesy Photo.

A proposed nighttime curfew in San Luis Obispo intended to curb criminal activity would prohibit minors  from staying out in public from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.

The pending ordinance, which will be reviewed by the city council and open to public comment on April 19, contains 11 exceptions allowing minors (those younger than 18) to roam the streets during restricted hours, according to a city press release. These provisions include emancipation, emergencies, activities involving school, work, religion or parental supervision, a First Amendment exercise, civic participation and interstate travel.

Violations of the proposed curfew would result in a $100 fine and/or 10 hours of community service and would be considered infractions, according to the press release. Subsequent violations would lead to increased fines and community service hours. Enforcing police officers would be instructed to notify the minor’s parent or guardian and return the youth to the responsible adult.

In defense of the proposal, San Luis Obispo Police Lieutenant B.C. Proll said “police make a lot of contact with juveniles at night who shouldn’t be out.”

Many of these dealings involve alcohol possession, public intoxication and driving under the influence of alcohol, especially in connection with Cal Poly student partying, Proll said. All cities surrounding San Luis Obispo have already enacted similar curfews.

Local teens, however, said the proposed curfew will neither curtail crime nor keep minors off the street.

“Giving minors more laws is going to make them more willing to break them,” said Jessica Dalley, a San Luis Obispo High School sophomore.

Other minors, such as San Luis Obispo High School freshman Ruby Solomon, said they agree.

“No one is going to follow it,” Solomon said. “There are already a lot of ordinances that everyone breaks.”

Another concern of a potential curfew is the complications in police distinguishing juveniles from young adults of legal age.

Former four-term mayor and Cal Poly professor Allen Settle opposes the proposed ordinance.

“Curfews are problematic,” he said. “You can’t tell the difference between a 17-year-old and an 18-year-old, and in some cases, you can’t tell the difference between a 17-year-old and a 21-year-old. Government should not try to micromanage.”

When asked if police would target 17-year-olds at Cal Poly, Proll said even if the person in question is a Cal Poly student, they are still 17 and considered a minor.

Business administration senior Alli Terpenny said she disagrees with that attitude.

“I turned 18 during (Week of Welcome),” Terpenny said. “How is it that one day I was incapable of roaming the streets unsupervised at night, but the next day, walking down a sidewalk at 4:20 in the morning with a can of spray paint is perfectly legal?”

Terpenny also said she questioned to whom the police would return the Cal Poly student in violation.

“(Would they take me) three hours south to my parents home … or would they have to leave me in the care of my residential adviser, seeing as in college she would be the closest thing to a legal guardian I have within the county limits,” she said. “I don’t think (residential advisers) sign up for that.”

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2 Comments

  1. Sounds to me like yet another law aimed at Cal Poly (and Cuesta) students. A great opportunity for any officer to arbitrarily stop anyone who “looks” young. Then, nab him or her for some completely unrelated offense.

    Age discrimination at its best, way to go SLO!

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