The Hollister City Council last week approved an update to the curfew ordinance by adding provisions for daytime enforcement. The amendment adds a daytime curfew for minors during regularly scheduled school hours, with monetary penalties for their parents possible for repeated violations. The new regulations will apply to San Juan Bautista and county jurisdictions as well.
“It’s designed to avoid having kids out during the hours of compulsory school when they might loiter and cause problems for businesses or residences,” said Interim Police Chief David Westrick. “Sometimes we need to protect people from themselves and have them in school during those times when they could get in trouble.”
All first-time violators will receive a ticket, and those violations will be tracked by the county probation department. The revised ordinance includes provisions for fines of up to $100 for the first infraction, $200 for a second violation and $300 for a third and subsequent violations during a 12-month period. Parents of the youths deemed to have violated the youth protection ordinance will be responsible for payment of those fines.
“We want kids to be at school or home and safe,” Westrick said. “If they’ve got a job or a sporting event, of course they can do all of that. We want them to prevent them from being the victims of crime or a suspect in crimes.”
Having ordinances with the same language in all jurisdictions in the county will allow for even enforcement, officials said.
“We worked diligently on this to make sure it’s the same in the county, city of Hollister and in San Juan Bautista,” Westrick said. “If there’s a youth out in violation of the curfew and they’re in a county pocket and a city officer contacts them, they can now enforce the unified ordinance universally.”
The sheriff’s department and Hollister police will exchange consent letters that allow for both agencies to enforce the ordinance in all jurisdictions.
Adding a daytime provision to the curfew ordinance could also help reduce daytime burglaries, thefts and other crimes.
“I think it’s another thing we’re trying to do to work better with the county to make things more efficient,” Westrick said. “It’s important that we all work together in these times because of our dwindling budgets.”
The revised ordinance notes that state law requires people between the ages of 6 to 18 to attend school and says that “the community as a whole suffers when a minor student is not attending school.”
The nighttime curfew will remain in effect between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. on Sunday through Thursday nights and will extend to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.
Exceptions to the nighttime curfew include when a minor is heading home from a public meeting, a place of public entertainment – like a movie or sporting event – without a stop, and when a minor is “exercising his/her First Amendment rights protected by the United States or California constitutions.”
Exceptions will also be made for home-schooled children, those participating in school, religious or other cultural activities and those responding to or acting pursuant to an emergency.
The ordinance states that a law enforcement officer can, “upon reasonable cause or suspicion” detain a person, determine whether they are a minor and determine if that minor has a “legitimate reason … for being in apparent violation of the youth protection regulations.”