Opinion: Councilwoman responds to curfew questionsBy Ben Gotfredson
Student, Cathedral Catholic High School
Ever since writing my article on the curfew law in San Diego, I’ve been approached countless times by parents and teenagers, and everyone seemingly has a strong opinion. But the majority of those opinions were one sided. From grandparents to 12-year-olds, most people who I talked to favored either abolishing the curfew law, or pushing it back to a more reasonable time past 10 p.m.
In order to get the other side’s opinion I reached out to Councilwoman Sherri Lightner, the District 1 representative in San Diego representing multiple communities, including Carmel Valley, Ranchos Penasquitos and La Jolla.
Why is the 10 p.m. curfew for minors in place for the First District (Carmel Valley and Del Mar specifically)?
Lightner: The 10 p.m. curfew is in place for the entire City of San Diego and is designed to protect young adults and promote public safety. Carmel Valley is one of the safest communities in the nation; however, there are neighborhoods in other areas of the city that are not as safe. The curfew law is designed to protect young adults equally throughout our entire city.
Why 10 p.m.?
Lightner: The San Diego Police Department reports that statistically a 10 p.m. curfew is the most appropriate, since many violent crimes occur later at night.
What do you tell kids who say that their school and social events often push past the 10 p.m. limit?
Lightner:Police officers working at the Northwestern Division are aware of many of the school events that occur in the community and will use discretion when citing minors for curfew violations. The police officers are directed to use the same discretion when citing minors coming from a municipality with a different curfew law, such as the City of Del Mar. Nevertheless, police officers will use curfew laws to cite minors if they witness suspicious behavior.
These were not the only questions I asked, but they were the only ones I got responses to. I raised a question about the flaw in the curfew law as one can be cited for violating curfew as they cross over the 5 freeway on Del Mar Heights Road into Carmel Valley, due to Del Mar’s curfew being an hour later than Carmel Valley’s at 11 p.m.
I also included this question, “While reading up on the official curfew laws for San Diego on sandiego.gov, I noticed an interesting curfew exception for minors. Teenagers are not breaking curfew as long as they are “Exercising First Amendment rights protected by the United States Constitution.” Could you possibly give an example of when this exception could occur, and why it’s considered an exception?”
Councilwoman Lightner also mentioned how students must get involved in their community, to ensure that minors are well aware of the curfew laws and other rules that directly affect them.
The system is made to benefit those who participate, and us teenagers struggle to come to terms with this truth. So if you feel that the curfew law is what impassions you, then go ahead and write your councilwoman and get answers.
Ben Gotfredson is a senior at Cathedral Catholic High School. He will be writing a column from a teen’s perspective for this newspaper throughout the year.
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