Social Host Ordinance - Minors and Alcohol

In response to the proposed Yucca Valley Social Host Ordinance, and the 9/28/2011 article misleadingly headlined as  "Who pays when kids get drunk", Morongo Basin  Ombudsman provides the following opposition.

This issue is populated with much mis-information, little thought, and high irrational emotion.  Factual information, unbiased by huge marketing dollars provided by the Federal social engineering programs or the alcohol industry is hard to find. 

Numerous requests to Town officials to provide hard sources for their findings and beliefs has found either no response, or responses that the Town does not have such supporting evidence.

MBO is always on alert for abuse, misuse, and misquoting of scientific results and here it finds distortion and untruths aplenty. Following is what MBO's investigation has found thus far.

There is no California State law prohibiting minors from consuming alcohol per se.  

Generally  speaking, State law allows minors to consume alcohol in any PRIVATE place.  Deputy Cathy Wagner and Diana DeMartino are quoted to similar effect in an article of the headline "GROUP TAKES AIM AT PARENTS OF UNDERAGE DRINKERS" in the Hi-Desert Star, January 27, 2010.

Yet all sorts of people think minors are not allowed to drink in California, but those people are just incorrect.  Furthermore, they are insulated and isolated from numerous highly regarded and fine societies of California where alcohol is part of healthy development of teenagers.  Think Napa Valley and local Marine bases as per Marine Corps regulation MARADMIN  Active  Number: 266/07  2007 subparagraph C, or, any Marine visiting a foreign land where local laws allow teenagers to drink alcohol as so many of them do.

Furthermore, child endangerment does NOT include providing brandy in the Christmas eggnog with cinnamon, nor even a small glass of wine to a teenager with the Sunday family feast.

While the rumor circulating around Yucca Valley is that "scientific studies prove" that alcohol causes permanent brain damage if given to adolescents, the major peer-reviewed scientific paper cited by anti-teen drinking groups in fact, goes out of its way to declare its results have NOT prove that fact  for HUMAN adolescents. The study was done on mice, and the major change to the adult mouse that was given alcohol in adolescence was that the adult was not as affected by alcohol compared to those who did not receive alcohol as  adolescents.

United States National Institute of Health

from http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/AA67/AA67.htm: Brain Effects— "It’s simply not known how alcohol will affect the long-term memory and learning skills of people who began drinking heavily as adolescents."

Social Host Ordinances that are properly focused on irresponsible drinking by teens  are useful to society.  Ventura County is the source for model language that has been used throughout the state.  Its structure sets a response to *actual public  nuisance* emerging from a parcel where minors are drinking.  Generally, only if the events at that location are a disturbance in their own right, (think urination from the rooftops if you must) does the model social ordinance become active.  There is no attempt to ban consumption by minors.

Ventura County Model Social Host Ordinance

http://www.venturacountylimits.org/resource_documents/VCL_Policy01_MSHLO_2010_web.pdf

However, the Yucca Valley Social Host ordinance has massively altered the terms of model social host ordinances implemented by cities across California.  Instead of doing what  the headline of this article implies—merely making owners of property pay for after-effects of a drunken minor—the Yucca Valley proposed social host ordinance BANS OUTRIGHT any and all consumption of alcohol by a minor that is not part of a religious practice.  Worse it criminalizes these practices.

Thus, in Yucca Valley, it will be illegal for a 20 year old Marine on leave from Afghanistan to have a beer with his father at home during the SuperBowl.  LUDICROUS!

It will also be illegal for the 12 year old son of Town VIP's to sneak a single beer from his parent's party.  LUDICROUS!  Currently such an act is left to the sanctity of parental control of the minor.  After this law is effective, Child Protective Services can lobby for a conviction of a criminal act on the part of the parent.

If that parent admits to a judge that a child under his control consumed alcohol in Yucca Valley, a hostile parent in a divorce situation will no longer be left to argue that the parent merely used poor judgement, that hostile parent will be able to argue that the other parent broke the law.  There is an enormous difference between the two situations in a court of law.

It will be illegal for those from the socio-economic-cultural class that is not represented by the Yucca Valley Town Council, which is the population of the town minus about 4,000 of a very closely bound society, from doing what they may have been harmlessly doing for generations.  Whether by intent or not, the Yucca Valley Social Host Ordinance illegally discriminates without a rational basis against protected classes of our society.

Whereas, the Yucca Valley Social Ordinance makes a false finding that "Underage consumption of alcoholic beverages .. pose an *immediate* threat" to public health, safety, and welfare, this is not true.

Underage drinking does NOT pose an IMMEDIATE threat to the public or the child.  Statements to the contrary are pure hysteria.  Immediate threat means "just about to happen and with high probability".

While a gun in the home of unsupervised children is an elevated threat to the public, it is not an *immediate* threat until something else occurs such as a child picks up the gun, puts bullets into it, and then points it towards someone.  In fact, some teenagers can use a loaded gun to stop an immediate threat to the public.

The same applies to analysis of minor consumption of alcohol.  The minor children of the thousands of German, French, and English tourist who fill our shops, restaurants, and hotels are trained by their parents how to consume alcohol responsibly, and they do so when they are in Yucca Valley and they will continue to do so after any such Yucca Valley ordinance becomes effective.

Law enforcement policies place very high priority of response to anything that is an immediate threat to the public.  Would Yucca Valley have police stop a burglary investigation in progress to blaze towards a call of some 20 somethings having a loud party where someone decides to claim they saw alcohol being consumed?  Really?  How will Yucca Valley determine that the person complaining is not lying about the alcohol just to get a faster response from the police?

If your reaction to the above is to start listing all the horrible accidents and socially irresponsible events that have occurred because some ignorant or "bad" kids went off on binge party got plastered and did some harm, beware that those facts do not deny the facts presented above.

Other cities have created highly effective Model Social Host Ordinances that are narrowly tailored to avoid Federally financed government social engineering programs which directly interfere with and disrupt wholesome parental/child relationships.

And finally, why the heck does Yucca Valley society engender dangerous drinking by teenagers?  What are the parents, the neighbors, and the Town doing to these children, or not doing for these childen that causes the children to self-medicate with alcohol.  Figure that out, and there will be no need for an irrational and draconian law perfectly suited to fuel feuds between neighbors and selective enforcement  by police run amok, and large lawsuits to enforce Constitutional rights.


see Marine Policy allowing 18 year olds to consume alcohol at:

http://www.marines.mil/news/publications/Documents/MCO%201700.22E%20W%20CH%201.pdf

Attorney William C. Makler of Santa Barbara has publicly opposed similar overreaching Social Host Ordinances:

Ask SB County Supervisors to Vote NO on the proposed Social Host Ordinance (i.e. Law)

100 College Presidents Call for Lowering the Drinking Age

Social Host Ordinance

William C. Makler, a Santa Barbara-based defense attorney, says law enforcement already has plenty of tools to deter underage drinking, including noise ordinances and other laws on the books. The Sun, Social host law get initial OK, Josh Dulaney, Staff Writer Posted: 07/18/2011 06:48:38 PM PDT

"However, what this law does is enable cops with poor judgment to rampantly intrude into peoples' private spaces in ways that will deter even legal conduct.  Giving that much 'unbridled' discretion to a rank and file patrol officer is disfavored by the California Supreme Court and may not otherwise withstand Constitutional scrutiny.  For example, according to the holding of the California Appellate Court in People v. Hua, police officers may not enter a dwelling absent a warrant simply because they believe that a non-jailable criminal offense is taking place inside." from Psst! Who invited the cops?!

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