La Canada Flintridge May Bill Parents for Teen Party Police Calls

Times Staff Writer

La Canada Flintridge city officials think they’ve finally found a way to put a lid on those Mom- and-Dad-are-in-Palm-Springs- so-let’s-party teen-age bashes.

An ordinance allowing the city to bill rowdy revelers when police have to respond more than once to neighbors’ complaints will be put before the La Canada Flintridge City Council for adoption Monday.

The law is aimed at “loud and unruly” teen-age keg parties, roof-raisers that cause irate neighbors to call police at 3 a.m. and prompt multiple visits by officers. And even though the parties don’t occur too often--there were 15 last year--law enforcement officials say they have become a major problem for La Canada Flintridge.

“In some of these parties, the parents are out of town, and they don’t even know there’s a party going on,” City Manager Donald H. Otterman said.


After several incidents in which sheriff’s deputies made repeated visits to disruptive bashes, the city decided to get tough.

“Now the deputies can tell the kids, ‘Not only are you going to possibly be arrested, but if your parents don’t know what’s going on, they will get the bill,’ ” Otterman said. “That may make a difference.”

The ordinance, modeled after similar laws in Arcadia and Fullerton, was first brought up by Mayor Pro Tem Edmund J. Krause at a Public Safety Commission meeting last year. Two deputies at the meeting enthusiastically supported the idea.

It doesn’t actually cost the city extra money for deputies to make a second call at a residence, but city officials see the ordinance as a deterrent to help them subdue out-of-control adolescents.

And even though the city doesn’t really pay more, the ordinance is based on the idea that people who are capriciously consuming more than their share of city services should pay extra for them.

“You have basic police service and regular patrols,” said Deputy John Hernandez. When deputies “keep going to repeated calls, you’re diverting normal patrol services from other citizens.”

Law enforcement officials also hope to eliminate more serious problems associated with teen-age parties.

“You have use of drugs and alcohol by minors, public drunkenness, the possibility of driving under the influence,” Sgt. Ron Williams said. “It escalates at each point.”


Owners of the properties where parties are given will be billed based on the prorated yearly cost of sheriff’s services. Otterman estimated the cost at about $65 an hour for a patrol unit, including deputies, patrol cars and supplies. If offenders don’t pay their bills, Williams said, the city will sue them.

And in the cases of easily irritated homeowners who have vendettas against their neighbors, deputies will have to make judgment calls.

“A lot of it is going to come down to common sense as far as deputies are concerned,” Otterman said. “There are some oversensitive neighbors with neighborhood feuds going on. It’s up to the deputies’ discretion.”