After 14 years, the Hesperia City Council will again be discussing a daytime loitering ordinance for minors on Tuesday night.
Management Analyst Georgia Graham said Thursday. City staff is offering "no recommendations," she said, and is merely "looking for council direction" on the issue.
The issue "has a history to it," Graham said.
In February 1997, the city council pondered a loitering ordinance to keep kids off the street during school hours. A public hearing on the subject that month led to 40 residents speaking on the issue, 25 of them against the idea. The council approved the measure in March of that year.
The 1997 loitering ordinance made it an infraction for minors between 6 and 18 years old to be in a public place or any abandoned or vacant building during school hours. A first offense would lead to a $100 fine, second offenses were a $200 fine and third offenses were a $250 fine. Additional offenses were handled by juvenile traffic court.
Exceptions were made for minors accompanied by a parent or guardian, on emergency errands, going to or from a place of employment or a medical appointment, in possession of an off-campus permission slip or for home-schooled students.
Voters overturned the 1997 loitering ordinance with a ballot measure at a special election that November.
"I'm not in favor of an ordinance that's written the way it was in 1997," said Councilman Bill Holland, who asked that the issue be placed on Tuesday's agenda. "It was overreaching and it didn't get the job done that it was supposed to. It wasn't effective."
Holland, whose day job is as a police officer for the Hesperia Unified school police, is only seeking input on the idea right now, rather than advocating a new ordinance.
"The reason I put it on the agenda was to generate discussion, to try and get a baseline from the public and see what they think about it. That's actually worked quite well."
Holland met Friday with residents who came and spoke about the issue at the most recent council meeting, he said. He also asked that residents give him direct input on the issue by calling him on his cell phone, 760-953-4705.
In addition to cutting down on truancy, Holland said a loitering ordinance might help curb the city's graffiti problem. He serves as the chairman of the city's graffiti task force, which brings together the school police, sheriff's department and Hesperia code enforcement.
"I don't think the public really understands what a drastic problem [graffiti] is," Holland said. Together, the city and school district spend approximately half a million dollars a year on graffiti removal, he said. "I think we have the best abatement program in the High Desert ... but [a loitering ordinance] would be another help."
The next regular meeting of the Hesperia City Council will take place on Feb. 1 at 6:30 p.m. at Hesperia City Hall, 9700 Seventh Avenue.
Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 760-956-7108 or at email@example.com. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star.