Contrary to recent reports, a proposed nighttime curfew for youth under the age of 18 has not yet been approved by the San Luis Obispo City Council.
The curfew ordinance, which would keep minors off the streets from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. Sunday through Thursday nights and midnight to 5 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights, was introduced by a 3-2 council vote May 3. It now must withstand final passage to become law.
California Government Code section 36934 states that city ordinances may not be passed into law until five days after introduction and must be voted on at regularly scheduled meetings.
City clerk Elaina Cano said, though not finalized, the curfew would most likely appear on the agenda at the next city council meeting, May 17 at 7 p.m.
The ordinance’s set appearance was confirmed by council member Dan Carpenter, who said the curfew would be on the consent agenda at the May 17 meeting. However, Carpenter said he plans to pull the proposed ordinance off the consent agenda to ensure the issue is voted on individually, and to allow another round of public comment on the matter.
Carpenter, who accounted for one of the two votes against the curfew at the May 3 council meeting, said he continues to oppose the ordinance.
“I don’t see an avenue in which I’ll support it,” Carpenter said. “I have no intentions of changing my mind.”
San Luis Obispo activist and operator of SLOVoice.org Kevin Rice said he is prepared for the curfew to be lifted off the consent agenda at the next council meeting.
Rice, who spoke against the proposed ordinance during public comment May 3, is trying to rally locals to voice their displeasure on the matter at the May 17 meeting.
“It’s not a done deal,” Rice said. “It won’t be a done deal until final passage, so now’s the time for everyone to get involved.”
If Rice is going to succeed in convincing the council to vote down the curfew, he will have to receive considerably more help from the age group targeted by the ordinance.
Only one San Luis Obispo minor, 17-year-old Peter Lee, appeared before the council on May 3 to make public comment on the issue.
Lee said it is the responsibility of the parents, not the City Council, to tell kids what time to go home at night. He also requested the council reduce the curfew hours if they are to proceed with the ordinance.
“Eleven o’clock is extraordinarily early,” Lee said at the meeting. “I think it should be rolled back at least an hour or an hour and a half till 12 or 12:30 because bike night … ends at 11. I wouldn’t be able to ride home without getting a $100 ticket.”
After hearing from Lee, Rice and a few other community members, the council came to a compromise of extending the curfew until midnight on Friday and Saturday. They did not, however, do the same for Thursday, when bike night takes place the first of every month.
Police Chief Deb Linden clarified that bike night would not fall into one of the 11 categories of exemptions from ordinance compliance, meaning minors must be home from bike night by 11 p.m.
Conversely, attendance at city council meetings past 11 p.m., which was brought into question by multiple speakers, was said to not be in violation of the curfew.
Council attendance falls under the curfew exemption categories of both a city sponsored event and exercise of First Amendment rights. The latter exemption, specifically, could serve as the loophole to allow minors to circumvent the law if the ordinance is passed. No mention at city council was made of the possibility of minors staying out later than permitted in order to protest the curfew.
Each member of the council did, however, state his or her position on the issue. San Luis Obispo Mayor Jan Marx, vice mayor John Ashbaugh and council member Andrew Carter each supported the curfew, citing the need to reduce the opportunities for criminal activity among minors.
Council member Kathy Smith voted against the curfew because she said the proposed $100 fines were too punitive. Carpenter said there is no need at all for a curfew, and he is more concerned with the criminal activity of college students.