Newport Beach : Council Acts on Curfew Law to Stem Rowdiness
In a possible first step toward combating what business owners and residents of the Balboa Peninsula say is an epidemic of after-hours teen-age rowdiness, the City Council has tentatively approved changes in Newport Beach’s curfew law.
Despite complaints of loitering, vandalism and other mischief among youths congregating on the peninsula, Newport Beach’s 36-year-old law prohibiting minors from being on the streets after 10 p.m. has not been enforced because of concerns over its validity.
The tentative changes approved in a council vote on Monday would permit police to enforce the curfew by modifying it to protect minors who are engaged in “constitutionally protected” activities, City Atty. Robert Burnham said.
Such activities would include theater-going and school- or church-related functions. Minors traveling to or from their places of employment and those with their parents would not be affected.
Youths found loitering for extended periods of time could be questioned by police and taken into custody. Police would not formally arrest the curfew-breakers, but would instead turn them over to parents or guardians.
Curfew violations would not result in legal action.
Although the proposed revisions were supported unanimously, Councilwoman Jackie Heather questioned whether updating the curfew would help to curb rowdiness.
“We’re in for a long, hot summer. The kids have money and wheels . . . but I’m not sure that a curfew would work,” she said. “There has to be another way other than a new law or some other strong-arm tool.”
Mayor Pro-Tem Ruthelyn Plummer, however, argued that Newport Beach should not become a congregating point for youths with nothing to do. “I don’t think it is the duty of this city to provide a playground for juveniles,” she said.
The curfew ordinance will come up for a final vote July 8. If it is approved, it will become effective in August.