Local News

Apr 21, 2010 1:30 AM by Monica Quintero

Mardi Gras will not be the only holiday where fines increase

San Luis Obispo City Council unanimously passed expanding the Safety Enhancement Zone Ordinance already in place for Mardi Gras. There will be stricter penalties now for those who break the law during two other holiday's -- St. Patrick's Day and Halloween. Steven Clark, Cal Poly student, said, "I disagree with it. I think students are going to be a little more broke than they already are."

The amendments made the Safety Enhancement Zone Ordinance increase fines for the first and second offenses. The first offense is going from $350 to $700. The second offense within a 12-month period would jump from $700 to $1,000. The third or subsequent offense within a 12-month period stays the same at $1,000. Deborah Linden, San Luis Obispo Police Chief, said, "That was one of the strategies we used and it was a very, very effective strategy."

Chief Linden said the Safety Enhancement Zone Ordinance was enacted in 2004 after a large, violent riot around Mardi Gras and she said it has made a difference. "Once word got out that fines would be increased during the time period around Mardi Gras, that really had a significant effect in preventing problems."

Proponents said it's another tool to better protect our community. Those against it said it's going too far.

If those holidays fall during or near a weekend, the entire weekend becomes a safety enhancement zone. It also includes a biennial review of the safety zone, in case new holiday's need to be added. The Unruly Gathering Ordinance is also listed under this ordinance, and fines will increase for that as well during these time periods.

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