Blame falls on party hosts

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Illustration by Liz Coffee

Illustration by Liz Coffee

Last week this city adopted a new social host ordinance. On paper, this new law is supposed to curb underage drinking by fining hosts of parties that serve minors alcohol.

In actuality, it seems unlikely that this new ordinance will change the culture of underage drinking that plagues Chico.

Originally, hosts of parties that supplied alcohol to minors would be fined $250 for first offenses, $500 for a second and $1,000 for further offenses within a year. However, concerns that these fines would not deter underage drinking prompted the Internal Affairs Committee to increase the fines to $500 on first offenses and $1,000 for repeated infractions in a 12-month period.

It would appear that students aren’t the only group skeptical of this new law having any real or lasting effects.

The amount offenders will be fined is not the only thing that has changed since the ordinance was first drafted. The law held landlords accountable for gatherings involving minors being served alcohol on their property, in a previous draft.

Landlord-targeted fines are no longer part of the new law.

“If a landlord has no knowledge or direct control over an unlawful gathering, for example, then the landlord may not be liable under these types of ordinances,” according to a City Council agenda report.

Instead police officers are tasked with finding the person or persons most responsible for these unlawful gatherings.

Accountability is the problem.

Lawmakers want to hold hosts accountable for underage partying occurring on their premises.

This is ludicrous. The responsibility and fines should rest with the true offenders:  underage drinkers. The law in its current form does little to actually deter minors from drinking.

This new law is small and reactionary. Chico needs preventative measures — this town has seen far too many alcohol-related injuries and deaths.

That’s not to say the social host ordinance is not important. The law is a step in the right direction. Chico had no laws that specifically targeted the serving of alcohol to minors in a private residence before its inception.

As it stands this, new ordinance won’t stop underage drinking. Determined minors will always find a way to skirt the law, but at least Chico has another tool in its attempt to keep the town safe.

The Orion can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.

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