In an attempt to make Los Angeles parks seem super safe, City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell has proposed barring adults unaccompanied by children from entering playgrounds. It’s an effort, he said, to keep city parks “free of creepy activity.”
Who wouldn’t want to ban creepy activity or creepy people from playgrounds? But what O’Farrell is proposing goes far beyond targeting worrisome activities that, in most cases, are already outlawed. It would bar any adult from sitting on a bench, exercising or otherwise enjoying public space near playground unless he or she brought a child along. Is this really necessary?
His proposal is based on laws in place in a handful of major cities, including New York City, where police caused a minor uproar several years ago by ticketing people for sitting on playground-adjacent benches to eat donuts or play chess.
O’Farrell said he was inspired to propose the ban after residents in Hollywood complained that their local park had been taken over by drug dealers. That is real problem, and by all means, the city should crack down on illegal activity in playgrounds. But if drug dealing or vandalism is occuring at a site, then have police or park rangers patrol it regularly. If there is a childless adult hanging around, leering at kids or taking photographs, then enforce the state law that already makes it a criminal offense to loiter at a playground or school with an unlawful purpose.
1. What if a grandparent is waiting at the park for the child and grandchild?
2. What constitutes an adult? Are we going with 18 and above on this? Or are we going to argue that 16 year olds can be pedophiles and should be banned? In that case, what constitutes a child?
3. What about elderly people taking a trip down memory lane?
4. What about a person who can’t have kids who just wants to sit for a moment and enjoy the laughter of children?
5. Wouldn’t it be more effective to encourage parents to accompany their children, and when doing so, put the damn phone away and pay attention?