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Good Intentions
L’enfer est plein de bonnes volontés et desires.” (Hell is full of good wishes and desires).” –St Bernard of Clairvaux.

 

By David Vanderveen.

Over the weekend I received this Facebook message:

Hey, I just added you to the group “Fight the Social Host Ordinance”. We have plenty of high-schoolers ready to speak against the illogicalities of this law, but almost no adults. If you could find some adults against this, that don’t have a conflict of interest, that would really help this cause. Thanks.

 

My response is simple. Although I am sure it will be unpopular for emotional reasons, I have to support the civil liberties of our citizens, particularly our newest voters, against the encroachment of an elder board.

I am happy to be the first adult and parent of Laguna Beach High School students to publically support the Fight the Social Host Ordinance (FSHO) movement.

Why is it that when our City Council and police, who cannot seem to understand the youth of Laguna Beach, start down the wrong road, the kids do a better job than the adults of organizing and managing themselves?

Unfortunately, local media have failed to ask tough questions about the proposed new ordinance that would increase police powers to go after homeowners if alcohol is being served to minors in their homes, whether the homeowners are present or not. No media seem to be willing to ask the city basic questions about how this impacts civil liberties in our small town.

There is general agreement that students, parents and voters want to generate more responsibility with the youth of Laguna Beach around drinking and drug use. Everyone has the best intentions. The question is what actually works and what are the unintended consequences of good desires in applied policy.

When our local police were blindly administering justice to juvenile skateboarders and commanding them to skateboard downhill at high speed into oncoming traffic, their excuse was that they were following their technical interpretation of the law. “I was just following orders” is apparently okay with our city government.

Under what premise would we want to expand police powers to people that use the Nuremburg defense?

Adam Redding-Kaufman, a senior at Laguna Beach High School, spoke at the last city council meeting and had made some of the most significant contributions. Unfortunately, he wasn’t quoted in any of the stories. His statements are published on his Facebook page under “Social Host Ordinance (SHO) Speech”:

An article written by the website “Daily Nexus” talks about Santa Barbara’s attempts in dealing with its party problem. The first solution SB passed was a “just call 911” campaign, which encouraged students to call 911 whenever someone seemed to be at risk for an overdose, or alcohol poisoning. In the beginning, this program had success. However, after the Board of Supervisors passed an SHO, not only did students keep partying, but 911 calls for overdose and alcohol poisoning decreased dramatically. When someone took too much of something, people developed an “oh they’ll be able to sleep it off” mentality… In other terms, a fine discourages students from calling 911 whenever there is a legitimate emergency at a party, and furthermore puts lives at risk.

I’ve written in past columns about the need for better training for our police force based on my discussions with global law enforcement expert Bert Wijbenga from the Netherlands. The focus of our police shouldn’t be to attack citizens, it should be to help settle social issues with grace and harmony. We don’t need a better thug mentality or bigger police state. We need police that can think, positively engage and help our younger citizens make safe decisions.

The best communities in Europe don’t take down homeowners if a high school party breaks out; they simply disband the party.

Prohibitions don’t stop drinking. We’ve proven that in America. Our ‘War on Drugs’ has also proven that the powerful American DEA is no match against American consumers’ demands for drug cartel products. Legislation does not generate morality. Culture creates morality and effective legislation follows the morality of culture.

Creating more legislation and giving Laguna Beach police more power over homeowners won’t change high school behavior, but it does pave the road to hell with good intentions.

 

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

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  1. Kristin Fast

    Well said, David. This ordinance doesn’t do a thing to prevent or address the very valid concerns of underage drinking – it simply creates another problem.

  2. Dom

    Great article Dave.

  3. Monique Motesharei

    I wholeheartedly agree David and good for the kids that got themselves organized. They can add my support.

    Having moved to the U.S.A. from the Netherlands 6 years ago the differences in cultural attitudes towards so many things are clear to me and though I did not agree with everything in the Netherlands, the fearmongering from the top down ways I see used here just frustrate and sadden me.

    This town is small enough and I thought progressive enough to take a ‘sit down and talk with the kids themselves’ approach to find solutions together. If they are given a chance to be part of the solution and have their voice count, then I think they will own it and work to make the solutions succeed.

    One thing I think is related is that there is no place for them to hang out together. Anything that interests them is shut down. Examples I have heard are a local citizen offering kids interested in music to come and “jam” together, which was shut down because of noise?, another boutique that had bands come and play on the weekends also shut down because of noise? If they hang out at the beach they are cited for loitering, so what are they supposed to do? And now even in the privacy of their own homes they will be policed? I am so appalled that this important aspect did not get published.

    And why is it that there is a beautiful community center that does not offer any events or activities that would interest teens?
    An old time Lagunite told me there used to be bands/dances at a place in the canyon. Why is no such thing offered now?

    If the initial reaction is the fear of under age drinking, all the more reason to empower the teens to organize it themselves so they have a vested interest in it not getting shut down because of that.

    It seems that the powers that be have forgotten what it is like to be a teen and view them only through negatively colored glasses and only strive to suppress them rather than empower them to contribute positively.

    I wish lessons would be learned from your perfect examples of prohibition and the war on drugs. I wish Laguna would live up to the potential it has to be progressive, creative and inclusive in its problem solving rather than following the same old same old rigid and authoritatarian problem solving methods which are not the answer and only serve to create more fear and frustration.

  4. Debbie Naude

    You guyys bring up some important issues. I will definitely be at the next meeting at the City to hear both sides. I am impressed by the kid’s informative & intelligent position on the subject & their gumption to stand up for what they believe is right.

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