Showdown Coming for SHO



Re: “Where’s the Fire?” Local Currents, Oct. 12 letters.

This once again is David Vanderveen at his best, nailing truth about the proposed Social Host Ordinance (SHO) to a post in the public commons.

I agree with David 100% and urge everyone to sign the petition asking all City Council and school board candidates to disclose their position on the SHO by Nov. 1. Toni Iseman said that puts candidates in a tough position, but moving the vote on SHO to the week after the election puts voters in a worse position!

Laguna’s police department performs very well in its traditional public safety and crime prevention mission. The local police do not do so well as social interveners and should not be used as social workers.  Using cops as what school board member Theresa O’Hare calls “just one more tool” for an experiment in social behavior modification makes for bad criminal law and bad social policy.

The police chief testified in June that this Social Host Ordinance “does not prohibit anything not already prohibited by state law.” Exhibit A in why we don’t need the SHO. Then on Oct. 3 the chief changed his tune, telling us the state law on serving alcohol to teens is too complicated for local police, so the SHO is needed to lower the statutory threshold for arrests. That would be Exhibit B in why this is a bad idea.

The local police have better things to do than develop protocols for enforcement of a new local standard of criminal liability with legal implications the City Council has not even considered. Let the state legislature adopt a SHO that can be applied uniformly. Don’t join other cities that have created an ad hoc local legal standard that lowers the bar for local police below the state law.

Finally, it is time for the school board to stop using the superintendent and other salaried public school employees to lobby the City Council to pass the SHO. Taxpayer funded lobbying by public employees is ethically wrong, and since they are so eager to put others in jail maybe we need to look at whether it is legal.

When there are taxpayers on different sides of a political question, public employees should remain neutral until the City Council has decided if the SHO will become law.

Howard Hills, Laguna Beach

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