Catalina Island News

Avalon's Curfew Law

City of Avalon

The ideal vacation spot for families, Avalon offers a myriad of opportunities for fun for all ages. Arcades, sheltered beaches, miniature golf and organized family activities provide the perfect chance for younger children to stay entertained and intrigued. Teenagers will love horseback riding, renting paddle boats, kicking up their heels at the skate park or perhaps learning to scuba dive. A nearly complete lack of crime means that parents can relax, confident that their offspring will be safe while in the Island's sheltered environment.

But while Avalon may be the ideal place to bring the whole family, it is not the ideal spot to turn the kids loose at night, at least after 10 p.m. The City of Avalon has imposed a strict curfew, aimed at discouraging teen loitering. Avalon's curfew was made even stricter in March, 2003, when the Avalon City Council voted to make the curfew 10 p.m. year round, rather than the 11 p.m. summer time curfew that was previously in place. The curfew, like all laws in Avalon, is enforced by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, which has the contract to conduct law enforcement in Avalon.

Teens who are found wandering the streets after 10 p.m. can be detained and charged with an infraction. First offenses are subject to a fine of up to $100. Teens and parents may both also have to appear in court. Second offenses include fines of $150 or community service. Teens who violate the curfew law more than four times can be charged with a misdemeanor.

There are several exceptions to the curfew, including one for teens who are leaving a supervised activity or attending an organized event. That means that if the Avalon Theatre lets out at 10:15 p.m., teens won't be detained, as long as they are on their way back to their hotel, home or vacation rental. Where a minor would run into problems is if he was on his way home and starts to loiter, said Lt. Pat Hunter, who is the commander of the Avalon Sheriff's Station. All minors, without exception, must be back in their accommodations by 11 p.m. unless accompanied by a parent or other responsible adult. Who is a responsible adult is a subjective decision, Hunter said. "What we don't want is 18 and 19 year olds supervising a 17 year old."

According to Hunter, Avalon's curfew law, with a few exceptions, is similar to many curfew laws on the mainland. Many visitors, however, are surprised by the law; because the city is so safe, they assume their teens can roam free until their family's agreed upon household curfew. Often, that household curfew is later than 10 p.m. "We don't mean that they have to go to bed at 10 p.m.," Hunter said. For many families that means quality time spent playing cards, board games or just talking with their teens is part of the Avalon family vacation.
"Avalon is a safe community, Avalon is a fun community," Hunter said. "That doesn't mean you can come over here and forget you have kids."

Sherri Walker Cline