The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a law Tuesday, Feb. 26, targeting underage drinking on private property in unincorporated parts of the Palos Verdes Peninsula.
The law makes permanent a pilot ordinance,which went into effect last year, applying to about 2,000 people across three neighborhoods. All four cities on the Peninsula already have similar laws, known as social host ordinances.
The new law, introduced by Supervisor Janice Hahn, makes it illegal for adults to host parties where minors consume alcohol or marijuana. First offenses are punishable by a fine of up to $1,000; second offenses within a 12-month period would require adults to reimburse the costs of any emergency response by police or other officials, in addition to a fine.
Property owners who are not aware a party is going on are not culpable under the law. Parents may also allow their own children to drink within their homes.
City ordinances on the Peninsula, such as the one passed in Rancho Palos Verdes in 2017, call for a first-time fine of $2,500, which could then rise by $2,500 increments for subsequent offenses. Similar laws were also passed last year in El Segundo, Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach.
In Redondo Beach, Mayor Bill Brand vetoed a similar law, because, he said, it criminalized the offense with up to six months in jail.
Since June, when word started getting around about the social host ordinances, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has not encountered any such parties, said Mike White, operations lieutenant and acting captain at the Lomita Sheriff’s Station.
Advocates for the law say there has been a spike in underage drinking on the Peninsula in recent years, where driving under the influence is especially dangerous because of limited visibility at night and winding roads.
Mitzi Cress, retired principal from Palos Verdes Peninsula High School, said the law gives parents a tool to say “no” to their kids when they want them to host a party.
“Sadly,” Cress added, “there are parents that want to make their children popular by having parties at their house and having alcohol.”