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Laguna Beach students fight proposed underage drinking law

May 11, 2012 | 11:01 am

This post has been corrected. See the note below for details.

High school students in Laguna Beach are challenging a proposed city ordinance that would hold parents responsible if underage drinking takes place in their homes even if they are away at the time.

The students said the law would only prompt teenagers to take their parties to the beach or city parks, where they would be at greater risk of being hurt or injuring someone else, the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot reported.

"This sort of law would just move the parties to beaches and parks, where kids could potentially hurt themselves," said Andrew Landsiedel, a 16-year-old sophomore at Laguna Beach High School whose father is on the school board.

The students, who started a Facebook page as a forum on underage drinking, said the proposed law -- which would result in responsible adults being slapped with fines for the underage partying -- would do  little to combat drinking among minors. The page shows that 685 people have joined the group.

The City Council, pointing to other cities that have adopted so-called social host ordinances, has directed staff members to draft a law that puts the responsibility of underage drinking on adults who control the property where a party is taking place.

The students say they intend to speak at every council meeting that has the ordinance on its agenda. They had had planned a campus demonstration Thursday, in which they asked fellow students to dress in suits and ties in order to be taken seriously. The protest, however, was called off without explanation.

Senior Adam Adam Redding-Kaufman pointed to UC Santa Barbara, which he said had a successful “Just call 911” campaign for minors to report drug overdoses and alcohol poisoning. He said the success of the campaign was dramatically undercut when an ordinance similar to the one being considered in Laguna Beach was adopted, essentially making "hosts" afraid of being liable or responsible for partygoers.

[For the Record, 11:42 a.m. May 11: An earlier version of this post referred to one of the students as William Landsiedel. His name is Andrew Landsiedel.]

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-- Joanna Clay, Times Community News

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