City to discuss ban on leaving kids alone

first_imgMONTEREY PARK – Some city officials want to prohibit unattended children at public libraries, parks and swimming pools. The City Council today will discuss a proposal that would make it illegal for kids under age 9 to be at public facilities without the supervision of an adult. “It’s not that we don’t want children here,” said Monterey Park City Librarian Linda Wilson. “It’s that we are concerned for the safety of children.” The ordinance targets parents who leave their children at the library for extended periods of time, Wilson said. If parents repeatedly violate the ordinance, they can be charged with a misdemeanor. A first violation of the ordinance would result in an administrative citation. A second violation may be punishable as a misdemeanor. “It gives them a little more recourse in the situation where the parents don’t cooperate,” Kim said. “But we would like to have the library rectify the situation itself.” Los Angeles County library spokeswoman Pam Broussard said that children under 9 must be accompanied by a guardian. But there is no penalty if the rule is not followed. She said Monterey Park’s proposal “is not a bad idea. I think it is something that could be up for discussion,” for county libraries. San Marino City Librarian Carolyn Crain said that San Marino passed a resolution in 1999 addressing an ongoing problem of children that were left at the library after it was closed. “We had children that weren’t picked up,” Crain said. “We weren’t comfortable with leaving them, and it wasn’t appropriate for us to take them home.” If any child was left after the library closed, the child would be taken to the police department, she said. “Since 1999, that has only happened about five times,” Crain said. “And it has never been used on the same parent.” Harry Panagiotes, Monterey Park’s director of parks and recreation, said there are times when children aren’t picked up from a class or who are too young to be alone. While the ordinance was sparked out of concerns from the library, Panagiotes said parks and recreation asked to be included in this ordinance. “Ninety-nine percent of the parents are very responsible, and they feel really bad when they are late,” Panagiotes said. “But some parents are not that concerned. This will give the Police Department more teeth than just offering a lecture.” (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2477160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “A while ago, we had two young children, probably 7 and 4, who were left in the library for four hours,” Wilson said. “They came up to the front desk and said they were hungry.” In another case, a mother left her 5-year-old at the library while she attended a college course, Wilson said. “City staff is not tasked with babysitting,” the staff report states. While it is not common, police have come to the library to help identify children and find their parents, said Monterey Park police Capt. Eric Kim. “Obviously, a child left alone in a public place creates a potential danger,” Kim said. last_img read more