City Councilman Mitch O'Farrell got some bad press this week after he proposed that adults who aren't parents or guardians be banned from publicly owned playgrounds. The Los Angeles Times editorialized that the prohibition would assume "every adult without a child is a pedophile."
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In a letter to constituents yesterday, O'Farrell clarified his motion, emphasizing that "this is NOT a ban on adults without children from using our parks." He did not back down from the proposal, which asks the City Attorney's Office to prepare a draft ordinance that would have to be approved by the council, limits city playground access — and playground access only — to kids and the adults directly supervising them. O'Farrell said a prohibition would apply only to designated play areas and not to whole parks. "These specific areas would be clearly marked with signage stating the limited access," O'Farrell wrote.
He said such a law already exists on state books and that, in order for local police to enforce it, the City Council would have to approve an ordinance applying to its play areas. Santa Monica, New York, Miami and other cities have similar laws, according to O'Farrell.
"Our park facilities should be a safe haven," O'Farrell wrote, "and we must do our part to provide the proper shelter for our kids."
The proposal was inspired by residents who have complained of "drug deals" and disturbing behaviors" taking place at city playgrounds, the councilman stated. But the Times' editorial board argued that if the city is concerned about narcotics or sexual predators, there are plenty of laws already on the books that can be enforced without having to discriminate against single adults.