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Totally random look at laws: curfew ordinances

February 19, 2010 - 4:09 pm

On the agenda for Tuesday’s San Diego County Board of Supervisors meeting is the first reading of an ordinance that would change the start time of the county’s juvenile curfew from 11 p.m. to 10 p.m. The argument for doing this, the board report says, is because most cities in San Diego County have a 10 p.m. curfew and, the county argues, kids head into areas under county jurisdiction come 10 p.m.

On Feb. 9, the U-T‘s Greg Moran reported on a state court’s ruling that the city of San Diego’s curfew ordinance is unconstitutional. Moran sums up the court’s ruling nicely:

The state 4th District Court of Appeal said the city’s ordinance is fatally flawed because it does not allow teens to travel to and from certain late-night events permitted under the law — including school, religious or recreational activities — unless accompanied by an adult.

This brings up the question: What about the county’s ordinance? When you put the two laws side-by-side, they look mighty similar. Both provide a bunch of exemptions to make sure that under-18ers who are accompanied by a guardian, on a parent/guardian directed errand, working, returning home from work, attending a religious or school function, involved in an emergency or emancipated minors aren’t subject to the law.

But if you look closely, there are two provisions that don’t totally match up. Here’s the provision of city code:

It is a defense to prosecution… that the minor was… attending an official school, religious, or other recreational activity supervised by adults and sponsored by the City of San Diego, a civic organization, or another similar entity that takes responsibility for the minor

Here’s the provision in county code (emphasis added):

It is a defense to prosecution… that the minor was… attending an official school, religious or recreational activity supervised by one or more adults and sponsored by the County of San Diego, a civic organization or other similar entity that assumes responsibility for the minor or going to or returning home from, without detour or stop, an official school, religious or other recreational activity supervised by one or more adults and sponsored by the County of San Diego, a civic organization or another similar entity that assumes responsibility for the minor.

There ya go. Amazing how a handful of missing words can land one municipal government in court. On Monday, Feb. 22, the San Diego City Council will vote on an emergency revision to its ordinance. Here’s the amended version of the above provision:

…attending an official school, religious, or other recreational activity supervised by adults and sponsored by the City of San Diego, a
civic organization, or another similar entity that takes responsibility for the minor, or going to or returning home from, without any detour or stop, an official school, religious, or other recreational activity supervised by adults and sponsored by the City of San Diego, a civic organization, or another similar entity that takes responsibility for the minor.



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