Greenwood council tables social host ordinance

deephaven-city-hall-stepsThe Greenwood City Council voted 3-2 at the April 5 meeting to indefinitely table city action on the social host ordinance previously brought to the council by the South Lake Minnetonka Police Department.

Voting to table the ordinance were Mayor Deb Kind and Councilmembers Bill Cook and Bob Quam. Voting against the tabling were Councilmembers Kristi Conrad and Tom Fletcher.

The ordinance was approved at its first reading March 1, by three members of the council, Kind, Conrad and Fletcher, as Cook and Quam were not at that meeting.

The ordinance was brought back for discussion at the April 5 meeting, Kind noted, to let the entire council weigh in on the matter.

Cook, who made the motion to table action, said he hadn’t changed his objection to the ordinance, which would allow for the prosecution of individuals who knowingly provide a location for underage individuals to drink alcohol.

“I think this is criminalization of bad parenting,” Cook said, noting that it is already illegal for those under the age of 21 to consume alcohol and illegal for those over the age of 21 to serve alcohol to anyone underage. “I don’t think there is any deterrence to this.”

Quam noted that something could happen, youth getting to the family’s wine cellar or liquor cabinet, that parents don’t intend to happen, causing serious consequences for the adults.

“Good parents could get into serious trouble and be criminalized because of this,” he said.

The ordinance was brought to the council by the police department and supported by the Minnetonka School District’s Tonka CARES group, which works to prevent and reduce substance abuse. The group has also provided informational support to the Excelsior City Council, which is also considering passing a social host ordinance.

Tonka CARES Project Director Rochelle Olson said at the February Excelsior City Council meeting that teens who participate in underage drinking were more likely to engage in use of drug and tobacco products and engage in risky sexual behavior.

Olson said that based on a recent student survey, 50 percent of seniors are participating in underage drinking and many of those individuals are binge drinking.

Shorewood and Minnetonka both have social host ordinances, which have resulted in a handful of individuals being prosecuted, many of whom repeatedly supplied underage youth with a location to drink alcohol.

Excelsior and Greenwood were previously approached on passing a social ordinance in 2009, but denied passage.

Community Editor Paige Kieffer contributed to this report. Contact Gretchen Schlosser at [email protected]