(This letter was also addressed to City Council member Toni Iseman.)
My stance on the Social Hosting Ordinance is very similar to my opinion on the homeless issue. Let’s enforce the laws that are already in place! It is illegal for minors to possess alcoholic beverages, it is illegal for minors to consume alcoholic beverages, it is illegal to drive while intoxicated and it is illegal for adults to provide alcohol to minors. A new ordinance will not curb teenage behavior. I learned this a few years ago when my wife and I met with a family counselor regarding how to parent teenagers effectively; the counselor made one point crystal clear, “if you tell a teenager that they cannot do something, they will set out to prove you wrong.”
Teenagers experiment with alcohol and have since it became available. My parents experimented with alcohol as high schoolers. I did. And I would wager that you and the other City Council members did as well. The key in my opinion is to promote safe and responsible “experimentation”, not restrict the location. This includes being in a safe place and most importantly not getting behind the wheel of a car. This is the message that my wife and I are sending to our two teenage children. A new ordinance is no substitute for responsible parenting and makes the issue where they drink, not if or when. As parents we really only have a few tools available: pay attention to our children’s behavior, create consequences and our own example of responsible drinking. Kids pay a lot more attention to what we do, than what we say.
I understand that the goal of the ordinance is to reduce the dangers of teenage drinking, which is admirable. However, I do not believe that this ordinance will approach accomplishing that goal. I would prefer that when my kids do experiment with alcohol, (and they will), that they are in the safety of a local home rather than out in a remote spot, or to drive out of town to a community where it is less restrictive.
Thank you for the opportunity to share my opinion,
Steve Cassill, Laguna Beach