Chico ordinance could address underage drinking

POSTED: 10:26 PM Jan 07 2014
Chico ordinance could address underage drinking
CHICO, Calif. -

An ordinance being mulled by the City of Chico could hold tenants, lessees and property owners responsible if underage drinking is allowed at a private party within the city limits.

A draft of the "Social Host Ordinance" was presented to the Chico City Council Tuesday night.

In short, it would be a new tool for police to use and a deterrence for large parties where underage drinking flies under the radar.

Right now, police are only able to issue citations to minors drinking alcohol and the ordinance would allow officers to punish residents of the homes where parties are held, and upon a second offense also punish the landlord.

Cities such as Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa already have similar ordinances on the books.

As currently written, Chico's ordinance would fine those in violation $250 for a first offense, $500 for a second offense and $1000 for a third offense in a 12-month period.

Similarly, landlords or property owners would be fined $250 for a violation following a previous warning to one of their tenants--the fines also double for subsequent offenses.

On top of the fine, those found guilty of a second or subsequent offense would be liable to pay for costs associated with emergency response to the party, including police, fire and medical aid.

There's still a ways to go before the ordinance would be put to vote.

The city council voted six-to-one to send it to the Internal Affairs Committee for consideration and further input. It's not expected to be voted for adoption until the spring, if it makes it that far.

Mayor Scott Gruendl made it a point of noting that an ordinance such as this--one that would affect the college aged residents of Chico--would not be voted on while students were not around to have a say. Chico State and Butte College students are still on winter break.