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Assembly Panel Backs Curbs on Teen Clubs

Times Staff Writers

A measure to crack down on teen-age dance clubs was approved Tuesday by the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee, under prodding from a Van Nuys mother and the Los Angeles City Council.

The bill, carried by Assemblywoman Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles), was passed on 12-3 vote and sent to the Ways and Means Committee.

Waters said there had been a number of problems, including the sale of drugs and alcohol at some of the clubs, which he said had “gotten out of control,” particularly in Los Angeles.

“There is no reason why government . . . should encourage minors to stay out to all hours of the night,” Waters said, adding that her proposal establishes the first statewide regulation of the clubs.

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‘This Is Not 1936'

But Assemblyman Richard E. Floyd (D-Hawthorne) objected, contending that teen-agers’ activities could not be so easily controlled.

“You’re not going to restrict young people. This is not 1936, it’s 1985,” said Floyd, who suggested that teen-agers be allowed to vote on the issue. Besides Floyd, Assemblymen Frank Hill (R-Whittier) and Larry Stirling (R-San Diego) opposed the measure.

Waters’ bill seeks to bar youths from 13 to 16 years old from the clubs unless accompanied by parents. It also would require the nightspots to send home anyone under 18 years of age by midnight on Fridays and Saturdays and by 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday.

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Under the bill, teen-agers also would be required to provide proper identification and would be denied admission if under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Moreover, alcohol could not be sold or consumed inside the clubs, even if some patrons were of legal drinking age.

Controversial Clubs

Waters announced her bill earlier this year outside the Odyssey, a West Los Angeles club that had its city permit revoked in response to neighborhood complaints.

Citizen complaints about drug use and rowdiness at the Phases, a Canoga Park teen-age club, also prompted a proposal by Los Angeles City Councilwoman Joy Picus to regulate the clubs in the city.

Both the City Council and the Legislature have, in part, acted in response to complaints by Betty Beaird, a Van Nuys comedy writer and mother of two sons, ages 16 and 12, who heads a group called Parents Concerned About Teen-age Discos.

Beaird appealed to the lawmakers to “help us reclaim our kids who have left home for the discos.”

She went on to say, “We want our teens to have their clubs but at an hour reasonable for their age and their position as students . . . . We must prevent what we’ve gone through in L.A. from becoming more widespread.”

However, Willie Feltus, owner of the Jukebox NiteClube disco in Sacramento, told the committee that the bill “would hurt us as far as the hours of closing.”

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The Los Angeles City Council voted 9 to 1 on Tuesday to support the Waters measure, and the city’s lobbyist informed the Assembly committee of the vote.

Picus said the council vote increased chances for passage of the proposed city teen-club ordinance she has sponsored.

Wachs Dissents

Picus’ proposal is similar to Waters’, but it includes a provision that 16- and 17-year-olds obtain parent-consent forms to go to a club.

The lone dissenter in the council action was East San Fernando Valley Councilman Joel Wachs, who branded Picus’ proposal as “overkill.”

Wachs argued that the council was setting a “dangerous precedent” of legislating morality.

A hearing on the city ordinance has been tentatively scheduled for May 22 before the council’s Police, Fire and Public Safety Committee.


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