Hesperia's 1997 daytime curfew ordinance won't be making a comeback.
A large crowd of residents, along with some from surrounding communities, converged on Tuesday's meeting of the Hesperia City Council. They came to air their concerns over a potential daytime loitering ordinance that would restrict children between 6 and 18 years of age during school hour.
"Councilman Bill Holland, right into the frying pan, his first month in office," teased Councilman Thurston "Smitty" Smith.
The newly elected Holland, who works as a police officer for the Hesperia Unified School District, had floated the idea of the ordinance as a way to crack down on the city's graffiti problem. The city and school district jointly spend a million dollars a year on graffiti abatement, he said.
Although the attendees were sympathetic to the problem, they had no interest in the proposed solution.
"Those little punks, they'll do it after school or at night," even if there's a curfew, said resident Kim Jones.
"Use the laws that are on the books and enforce" them, said resident David Penn.
"I believe that school truancy issues begin and end in the home," said school board president Chris Bentley. "It is a parenting issue."
"Hesperia has already said we don't want a daytime curfew, resoundingly," said resident Vivian Hauser.
As Management Analyst Georgia Graham noted in her staff report, it's an idea that Hesperians have experienced before: In 1997, the city council voted in favor of a daytime curfew ordinance, despite a majority of residents attending a public hearing on the issue opposing one. As a result, Hesperians did something they'd never done before, and never done since: They put the issue on the ballot that November and repealed the curfew.
"Do you think the Hesperia of today is more likely or less likely to ignore you trampling the Constitution?" asked resident Dave Holman, one of Holman's fellow city council candidates in the fall of 2010.
Fourteen years after the original daytime curfew hearing, public comments were 12-0 against the idea. (No actual ordinance had been drawn up; the purpose of the hearing was simply to gauge the public sentiment on the issue.)
The message was received loud and clear.
"I went into this with a completely open mind, and you've convinced me," said Holland. The ordinance, "in my mind, is to put to rest. The underlying issue," graffiti abatement, "is not."
Holland said he would continue to work with officials and community members to find new ways to combat graffiti. 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.
The next regular meeting of the Hesperia City Council will take place on Feb. 15 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.