Featured Stories

LO curfew talks to continue

Some students want the ordinance abolished, but the city's Youth Council demurs

The Lake Oswego Youth Council hesitated to take a firm stance on the city's curfew ordinance during a meeting with a group of local teens that asked for its help in getting it abolished.

The move surprised and frustrated the Lake Oswego High School students, who are backed by the American Civil Liberties Union and advised by ACLU attorney David Silverman.

Juniors Paul Trompke, Kyle Hayes, Taylor Goldsmith and Hanna Piazza expected to leave the meeting with the support of the Youth Council, which will make a recommendation to the Lake Oswego City Council to abolish or amend the ordinance.

Instead, the Youth Council - three Lakeridge High School and three LOHS students - voiced varied opinions and asked for more time to reach a conclusion.

'We're asking for their support because they represent Lake Oswego youth,' Hayes said. 'We thought they would be more understanding.'

In their presentation, the students told the Youth Council that the city and state ordinances discriminate against teens and violate their Constitutional rights. They also said it's the responsibility of parents to monitor their own children - not the city's or state's.

'We believe we have the right to move around the city as we want, and not be targeted because of our age,' Trompke said.

The current city ordinance, which is based on a state law, forbids children younger than 14 to be on the streets between 9:15 p.m. and 6 a.m. Those 14 to 18 can be out until 10:15 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until midnight on Friday and Saturday during the school year.

If the city ordinance was abolished, local teens would be required to follow state curfew, which begins at midnight on weeknights.

Some members of the Youth Council, however, were skeptical about whether the curfew should be abolished - putting state laws in place - or amended to fit the state law.

'I definitely agree that the (city) curfew is vague, but I don't feel completely comfortable about abolishing it,' said Youth Councilor Ashna Reddy.

Reddy suggested the two sides reach a compromise to amend the current ordinance.

'I see a compelling state interest to have a curfew,' she added.

Youth Councilor Katie Hamachek said the ordinance keeps teens safe from harm and serves the community's best interests.

According to Capt. Don Forman of the Lake Oswego Police Department, less than five minors were cited for just a curfew violation - a status offense - in the past year.

Forman said officers use discretion in each case and typically have the minors call their parents to pick them up or send them home with a warning.

In 2005, however, about 30 minors were cited for violating city or state curfew, along with other crimes, such as minor in possession or vandalism. Those individuals were taken to the Clackamas Juvenile Reception Center, Forman said.

'Most people have another crime attached,' Forman said. 'Usually, there are a whole lot of other issues in the mix.'

Trompke said the statistics prove the ordinance is unnecessary and allows police to target innocent teens for no reason.

'These kids would have been in trouble otherwise,' he added.

Youth Councilor Hannah Troisi agreed.

'I support pushing the time back,' she said. 'The curfew seems like a reason to check up on kids at night. Most people (cited for curfew) are committing other crimes anyway. Kids who aren't shouldn't get pulled over.'

By the end of the meeting, the Youth Council vote appeared split in half - three for abolishment and three for amendment.

City Councilor Kristin Johnson, who is advising the Youth Council, suggested members take more time to decide and meet again.

That idea did not sit well with the students, who told the Youth Council their support in getting the city curfew abolished would move the process forward and save the city from possible legal repercussions from the ACLU.

'So even if we revise it, you'll still challenge it?' Reddy asked.

'So it's all or nothing? Curfew or no curfew?' Hamachek chimed in later.

The students bluntly told the Youth Council they were correct.

'It's in your best interest to pass this along to the state level,' Trompke said.

Hayes added, 'You can't let other people make decisions for you.'