Local Currents

Tennis Courts and House Parties


By David Vanderveen

“Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, and you’re going to need a bigger jail.” Laguna Beach resident, Glenn.


Glenn Rogers explained a joint committee meeting of the Laguna Beach school board and city recently with the above quote. He was there to address the issue of badly maintained high school tennis courts and was surprised to find a proposal for a Laguna police state.

Rogers and Paul Hamilton have been working with a team of concerned parents and a reluctant school board to bring the tennis courts, which are jointly maintained and used with the city, up to minimum playing standards for safety and competition.

Currently, the high school courts are the worst in town. They have become so bad in the past years that other high schools have refused to compete on them.

The city has committed $230,000 of the roughly $300,000 needed to update the courts and improve the lighting so that they can be used by our teams for tournaments and in the evenings.

Sadly, our school has more than sufficient resources from a locally funded bond that was established explicitly to provide for minimum standards of school facility maintenance. Superintendent Sherine Smith and our school board are responsible these funds. They need to be held accountable, particularly when courts are becoming unsafe.

Fighting the dramatic improvement of a shared asset is bad management.

Then the plot thickened according to Rogers and Hamilton: after Sherine Smith baulked at accepting city money for the courts, Police Chief Paul Workman proposed that if high school parties are thrown in the homes of citizens who are out of town, the police might want to fine and arrest the homeowners.


Apparently the train of thought here is that we are all responsible for our property (minus tennis courts) and what happens there if we are in town or not.

I am aware of four house parties since my two boys have been in high school. In none of those cases were the parents or homeowners acting irresponsibly. In two cases, sociopathic high school students lied to borrow keys from either a child who wasn’t at the home or from a house sitter and threw wild parties with complete lack of regard for the property.

In the two other cases that I’m aware of, neither high school student intended for a party to occur. They invited a couple of friends over to hang out and word got out that no parents were home over social media, which quickly spiraled into events that were both unplanned and shut down by local family or friends.

How do fines or arresting homeowners change trespassing or viral social media?

Which leads me back to lighted tennis courts—what alternative activities do kids have in Laguna Beach at night? What better options are we providing for them?

The curfew system obviously isn’t working because laws don’t generate morality. Laws support the general behavior of the citizens. No one drives 55 simply because no one drives 55.

Our city council and police do not understand social media or the activities of high school students in our town. They are proposing expanding police jurisdiction to fine and possibly jail any homeowner solely on police discretion.

Local police can barely manage the social interactions around parking tickets. Now there are discussions about them essentially creating their own Guantanamo in Laguna?

I don’t think so.

Our high school leadership both refuses to develop simple evening options, like lighted tennis courts, for students but then agrees with Workman that police should be able to take down homeowners for bad behavior of other people’s kids?

If this law happens, I would be happy to apply my experience in ballot measures to make sure that we hold our police chief and anyone who votes for this to the same standard as homeowners.

Putting homeowners in jail for unintended parties makes sense, because it’s their domain? Great. Let’s fine or jail the police chief and the city elders who vote for this insanity for any similar DUI, public drunkenness or underage partying that happens on public property, including the high school courts.


In the words of Glenn Rogers, “We’ll need a bigger jail.”


David Vanderveen is a Laguna Beach resident, husband, father and energy drink entrepreneur. His email is [email protected]

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