City Council Proposes Fines for Teens in the Loop Fines could be as high as $1,000

One of the bills the University City City Council looked at Monday Night¶s meeting was that of addressing the large number of teens in the Loop. Bill 9112, if passed, would be an ordinance that would amend Chapter 9 of city¶s municipal code, removing a section that currently pertains to panhandling, and replacing it with a new section, 9.08.045, entitled ³obstructing or interfering with the use of sidewalks and streets.´ Bill 9112 states that it would become illegal for people to assemble, or loiter, or walk, on any sidewalk or the street in a manner that would interfere with the use of the sidewalk or street. It further refers to section 1.12.010 of the municipal code, which sets the maximum allowable fines for infractions of the municipal code. The maximum fine that allowable in University City on a code infraction is $1,000, or other punishments, such as jail time. Earlier in the council meeting, Joe Edwards, owner of Blueberry Hill spoke during the citizen participation section of the agenda, reiterated his feelings about the curfew, noting that 6pm was too early for the curfew, and suggested making ³two reasonable small steps´ of adjusting the curfew by 1 hour and 1 year. ³Six o¶clock is way too early, and that eliminates the opportunity for a lot of good teenagers to enjoy the Loop,´ Edwards said in his comments. In his comments, Edwards thought that moving the curfew back one hour from 9pm, to 8pm and increasing the curfew age from 16 to 17 would alleviate the problems with youth the Loop is experiencing. Changing it from 9pm to 8pm, Edwards said, would make it easier and safer for the police, because the curfew would still be during daylight hours. Changing it by one hour, he stated would not penalize the good teenagers that are in the Loop, and want to come in the loop. On increasing the age of the teens subject to curfew in the loop to 17 and under, Edwards said that it would be beneficial to not have 17-year-olds after 8 o¶clock, ³that could be doing other things.´ He thought by eliminating having 17-year-olds in the loop, it would reduce the 18 and 19 yearolds that were ³predatory in nature´ from hanging around. Ed Reggie, a civil rights activist, and City of St. Louis resident had concerns about the wording of bill 9112 and addressed those concerns during the meeting. Reggie said that sidewalks, streets, and parks have been traditional venues for public and civil discourse, and that the proposed ordinance could hinder people¶s right to assembly on public sidewalk, because of the wording. The Supreme Court, he said, had said that ³I am totally opposed to a $1000 fine for someone who is µblocking the sidewalk,¶´ Reggie said in his comments.

He said after the meeting that ordinances like this ³chip away at our civil liberties.´ The bill¶s first reading was at Monday night¶s council meeting. A second reading will occur at the May 9th city council meeting.

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