New Teen Drinking Law Gets Summer Hiatus


To applause from both sides of the issue, an ordinance fining adults for hosting parties where minors are drinking and using drugs was tabled for additional tweaking in a 3-1 vote by Laguna Beach’s City Council on Tuesday.

Known as the social host ordinance (SHO), the proposed city law was sent back to the police department as well as interested high school students and adults to include revisions, such as an amnesty clause so that a person calling for emergency medical assistance at a party would not be penalized.

Council members also agreed with critics of the ordinance that it needed clearer wording, as in defining adults who “knowingly” host parties where they distribute alcohol or drugs to minors.  A counseling session for first-time offenders in lieu of a fine was also suggested.

“What triggered this is a sense in the community that there’s a handful of parents who…want to be cool,” said council member Toni Iseman, “who want to be part of the party and they want to see their kids’ friends like them.”

Council member Elizabeth Pearson said the amnesty contingency would “defeat the purpose of the Social Host Ordinance,” because making a 911 call would cancel the citation and fines provided as deterrents. “It’s not that we’re driving around looking for people, we get a phone call,” Pearson later added, reiterating police protocol to respond to disturbance reports.

Council member Verna Rollinger disagreed with delaying the ordinance, saying she wanted to formally introduce the law and return with revisions rather than start the process over.  Rollinger initiated the ordinance in May at the request of the Community Coalition, a group representing various service organizations that promote the slogan “Minor Drinking, Major Problems” as part of its efforts to lessen youth alcohol abuse. Council member Kelly Boyd was absent due to illness.

Suggested changes can be sent to Police Chief Paul Workman at [email protected] by Oct. 16; the ordinance will return to the council’s agenda for a first reading on Nov. 13.

A group of high school students initially opposing the ordinance, said it will create a backlash by inhibiting 911 calls for dangerously intoxicated minors due to a fear of being fined.

“Make it as good as you possibly can,” Iseman told high school junior Adam Redding-Kaufman.  Kaufman said students had already made improvements on the trial ordinance as a class project, adding that the revision included educating parents about the consequences to themselves and their children.

Hearing from students, parents, psychologists, pediatricians and other experts both pro and con, comments continued for more than two hours from a full-house of residents split on whether the ordinance will be effective in protecting the welfare of minors.

“It’s the culture,” said Frances Naude, an LBHS senior planning on attending Chapman University this fall.  “As much as no one wants to admit it, young adults are going to continue to do what they do.” Naude said she’s seen students running to hide in the bushes stopped in their tracks by police taser guns.

“If you’re not allowed to be in the street and you’re not allowed to be in a home, I’m just confused as to where we’re supposed to go,” she said. “If we’re drinking down at the beaches, students could be going into the ocean and drowning.  Will the parties just be relocated to homes in Emerald Bay (an unincorporated gated community outside city jurisdiction)?  It’s the culture, it is,” she said.  Naude said teens, not adults, are providing alcohol at parties, buying it with fake ID’s.

Pediatrician Gary Jenkins, a local resident, said new research indicates that earlier consumption of alcoholic raises the risk for alcoholism later.  “We do have a problem in this town,” he said.  “There’s more drinking and drugs than there are other in other communities around us.  The school can’t do it alone.  It will take an entire community effort.”

Penalties under the ordinance could require counseling or taking a special class much like driving school. Fines were preliminarily set at $500 for a first violation, $750 for a second and $1,000 for additional violations.  Illegal underage consumption was defined as 20 years old and younger.  Irvine, Laguna Hills and Mission Viejo have social host ordinances; Manhattan Beach is the only city in Los Angeles County to enact a similar law to penalize adults for hosting underage drinking and drug parties.

Providing several months to rework the ordinance joined the pro and con contingencies in a common purpose and joint meetings were suggested by council members.

“We need to instill in our children respect for the beauty of the human body,” said long-time local Bruce Hopping, 90, who said he exercises daily.  “We had the war on drugs, we spent billions on that and we have more people in jail than in any other nation in the world.  It doesn’t work, my friends.” He suggested a citywide mission to “imprint the values of the beauty of the human body.”

Share this:


  1. @ Frances — Where are you supposed to go? Well, if you’re not 21, then you’re not supposed to be drinking. So you’re not “supposed” to go anywhere to do it. That’s your problem, not ours.

    However, I have an easy solution for you:
    Just a thought, but the cops don’t show up unless the neighbors call them. And the neighbors wouldn’t call them if you knocked it off at a reasonable hour, cut the music around midnight, quit throwing up in our driveways and ditching bottles in our yards, and if your friends didn’t squeal off at 100 mph wasted.

    I like to drink too. My friends and I just usually try not to bother anyone else while we do it.

    Also, I’m one of your 20-something neighbors. Just imagine how your 60-something neighbors feel….

  2. I agree.. You are not supposed to be drinking if you’re under 21. Figure it out. Do something with your free time that doesn’t involve underage drinking, no regard for neighbors or the law.

    Part of the culture? That’s a sad comment.

  3. Oh, come now, it IS the culture. How can anyone deny that it always has been? The real problem is the legal drinking age – you can vote, you can join the Army, you can get married – but you can’t have a beer? It’s a denial of reality to scold kids for partying, even if it’s illegal.

    I get a kick out of these comments from the “Hey you kids! Get off my lawn!” crowd. Don’t you think it’s a little mean-spirited to jump all over a young girl who had the guts to stand up and remark on a law she thinks is dumb? I do.

  4. Do you know Frances or her friends?
    I’m sorry that “20 something VA & 30 something LC” have found vomit & trash on your driveway.
    It seems that Frances’s inexperience in public speaking has worked to her detriment. I was at the city meeting and this young girl was being honest and concerned that the wrong people are being targeted here, the parents. She pointed out that the kids are getting away with having fake ID’s and showed concern about them drinking. I understood her use of “we” as referring to being part of the same teenage community as a whole. Her admission, in front of the Chief of Police, Mayor and other City Council members, that underage LB teenagers drink and that there is a problem, took some guts!

  5. @Johnny, a city ordinance one way or the other does not change the status quo that the legal drinking age is 21 throughout the US, and I think state law even applies over in Emerald Bay (and on the beaches) as well.

    But the point of my comment is not to defend the drinking laws; I actually DON’T care if teens drink. Or where they do it. Hell, I’m 28. But partying responsibly and not simultaneously violating other laws (littering, trespassing, driving while intoxicated, existing noise ordinances) is the best way to keep heat from the neighbors (and thus the cops) off your back. So, yeah, getting off my lawn would be a great start!

  6. If anyone can honestly say that they waited until they were 21, before they had their first alcoholic drink, let me know.

    I know many of the Laguna Beach teenagers and I have not heard or experienced this type of disrespectful behavior, mentioned above, from any of them. Where do you live @VA? Next to a bar?

  7. Sally –

    We are talking about people getting drunk and going out and endangering property and other people. This is compounded problem that you and others who champion teenage drinking need to wake up and see. This has little to do with the nonsense of drinking age or any other hotbed liberal topic.

    This has to do with permissiveness and affluence and how it impacts teenage behavior. Laguna Beach teenagers are not normal teenagers. They have wealth. They have cars, they sometimes have parents who are more interested in being permissive and friendly and thus lack structure and discipline. This makes for a deadly cocktail. This is why enforcement and laws are needed.

    I don’t know what kind of common sense all of you lack to think that punishing parents for teenage drinking is a bad thing! I understand that some people in Laguna are woefully ignorant about life, being sheltered and such, but in what possible way is limiting the scope of teenage recklessness a bad thing?

    Try and understand, teenagers know just enough to be dangerous. They are almost all irresponsible to a T because they lack the experience to understand implications. That’s why we as a society try to limit their exposure to events that cause them to have to take responsibility.

    Stop enabling destructive behavior. Stop giving credit to someone who broke the law and owns up to their mistakes ( it should be a given that your child does this ) and stop pretending that enabling teenagers to be destructive doesn’t impact the community.

  8. Show me the problem necessitating a new law, and I will accept that a new law is needed.

    I think this is blown way out of proportion by people who buy the baloney on the MTV show about all Laguna teens being spoiled, stupid rich kids who don’t actually know any teens in this town, like LC. Who are these amorphous parents who provide alcohol to teens? And if this problem actually exists, why can’t the cops just use and enforce the furnishing laws that already exist to solve this problem? Let’s stick to the topic at hand, shall we? Did you even watch the video? These are thoughtful, intelligent kids who will be running your world one day soon, so have a little respect.

  9. @LC – I am not “championing teenage drinking” or condoning it for that matter. You clearly have made your own personal judgment of Laguna Beach teenagers and their “affluent” parents and lifestyles. No… “Laguna Beach” the reality show, does not give a true picture of the everyday life of a Laguna Beach teen. If you had attended the graduation ceremony last week of the 2012 class of teens you may have a different point of view. Or if you had attended the LBHS Scholarship awards ceremony you may have witnessed “believe it or not” some kids being awarded scholarships because they would otherwise not have been able to pay for college and others because of the hours of community service that they give to a host of needy causes.
    There are exceptions, I agree, but of course there are exceptions at any age. Give the Laguna Beach teens a break and get to know some of them. It is interesting too, that you presume that I have children of my own… not yet! Just two years ago, I was one of the Laguna Beach teens you talk about.

  10. Sally –

    When you get out in the real world, you’ll realize that any child who gets their own car is somewhat affluent. I’ll spell the rest out for you since you seem unable to comprehend it: If a child has a car they can drink and drive. If they drink and drive they can cause accidents Children make bad decisions because they are children. Alcohol further inhibits everyone’s decision making ability. Anyone who enables this process needs be punished and there needs to be a deterrent in place for people not enable this process. This ordinance does exactly that.

    The rest of what you wrote was myopic and ridiculous. Children who graduate high school drink. Children who are on the honor role drink. To pretend that children who get good grades or graduate from high-school are somehow absolved of making stupid decisions when they are under the influence of alcohol is the exact type of naivety that leads to tragedy.

    Finally, why are you babbling about a TV show, do you not realize I am a resident? Did you think I became one and then never set foot out of my house? Was there a point somewhere in that inane example?

  11. Peaches – are you even aware of what the charge would be if officers went with the existing laws on the books? Do you realize rather than pay a fine people would be prosecuted?

    You say you are for leniency then want police to enforce the more draconian option. What kind of clueless response is that?

  12. Wake up people! It IS the culture. It didn’t start in Laguna Beach and it won’t end here.
    This Social Host Ordinance is aimed at a few parents so stop having a go at the kids.
    As stated above we already have laws the prevent underage drinking, providing minors with alcohol, driving under the influence of alcohol and for disturbing the peace so why are we thinking about spending more taxpayers dollars on introducing a new ordinance to cover laws that already exist? Instead why are we not discussing having a safe place for teenagers to “hang out”. Maybe this is what the young student meant when she said “Where are we supposed to go”. Thank you Laguna Beach City Council for not rushing into passing this new ordinance.

  13. Sounds like LC hates kids and hates other commenters who don’t agree with him/her. It might be accurate to also guess that LC is an angry, unhappy, mean-spirited person who believes him or herself to be much smarter than anyone else. Let’s leave her/him alone and work productively on making the SHO something we can live with if we have to have one, rather than railing against “kids these days.”

    If it’s any comfort, the message has gotten through about drinking and driving – nobody in the teen set that I know who’s been drinking would ever dream of getting behind the wheel, and the kids watch out for one another and make sure that doesn’t happen.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here