A motion presented by Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, 13th District, earlier this month to draft a law banning adults unaccompanied by children from city playgrounds will have to clear a few more hurdles, including passage at the committee and council levels, before becoming law.
O’Farrell wanted to pursue this ordinance after hearing from constituents about loitering issues on local playgrounds, said Tony Arranaga, O’Farrell’s communications director.
The ordinance would require adults in playground areas to be accompanied by children. All park areas outside of established playground boundaries would not be affected by the law.
The precise boundaries around a playground that adults without children with them would not be able to cross is to be determined, Arranaga said. Existing sand, shrubs, gates or fences around many playgrounds could serve as possible perimeters that could be adorned with signage about the law, if it eventually passes.
A user on Twitter asked O’Farrell if he would be able to sit on a bench in a public park if the ordinance goes into effect; O’Farrell responded “absolutely.” This exchange likely represents a precursor to the types of questions the proposed ordinance will face from residents who will want to understand the impact it could have on their lives, Arranaga said.
For example, in New York City, which has already adopted a similar ordinance, seven men playing chess inside a public playground area were ticketed in 2010 because they were not accompanied by children, according to New York media.
Miami Beach, Fla., has also adopted a similar law, according to the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), a nonprofit that promotes public parks, recreation and conservation. So did the city of Hollywood, Fla., which penalizes violators with a fine up to $500 or up to 60 days in prison.
Penalties for violating the potential Los Angeles playground law will be determined during the drafting process, which will include public input, according to Arranaga.
As far as the possibility of legal challenges, NRPA states, “there is no constitutional right to use public parks under all conditions and at all times,” and that public park availability can be subject to “reasonable time, place and manner restrictions.”
“As city leaders, we owe this to families, to create safe spaces for their children at city play areas,” O’Farrell said in a statement after the Dec. 14 council meeting in which he introduced the motion. “Other municipalities have adopted similar laws to enhance child safety and provide law enforcement with clear regulations as to who may be present in a playground. Our park facilities should be a safe haven, and we must do our part to provide the proper shelter for our kids.”
Once the ordinance is drafted, it will go before the Board of Recreation and Parks Commissioners, followed by the Arts, Parks and Los Angeles River Committee and to the full city council.
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