City may take action to prevent gang turf taking

Los Angeles Daily News
Civil, criminal actions could keep control of areas used as gathering places

By Jim Skeen
Staff Writer

Friday, January 21, 2005 – PALMDALE — City officials are looking to strengthen municipal anti-gang measures with an ordinance aimed at blocking gangs from establishing turf.

The proposed ordinance prohibits loitering in public areas, including public areas of private property, by members or associates of a gang for the purpose of intimidating neighborhoods. The ordinance requires property owners to exercise sufficient control over their properties to prevent them from being used for gang activity.

“This gives the city the power to go after civil injunctions on acts of intimidation against neighborhoods,” said Deputy City Attorney Cesar Bertaud.

A review of crime reports between 2001 and 2004, conducted at the request of the city, identified approximately 2,806 gang members who gave a Palmdale address at the time of arrest, although they may not have actually lived in Palmdale, according to a city staff report on the ordinance.

Members of approximately 61 gangs have been identified as being present in Palmdale at their time of their arrest. Of those 61 gangs, approximately 18 gangs were founded in Palmdale, according to a staff report to the City Council.

The proposed ordinance prohibits the parent or guardian of any minor gang member or associate from failing to exercise sufficient control over the minor to keep them from violating the provisions of the ordinance.

The offenses are criminal misdemeanors, punishable by fines of $1,000 and/or six months in jail. The ordinance also declares properties used by gangs to be nuisances, and empowers the city attorney to bring civil actions for damages.

The ordinance will be considered by the City Council at its meeting Monday night.

Sheriff’s officials said that no gang has thus far established a “turf,” or taken control of a neighborhood in Palmdale, although there are a significant number of crimes committed locally by street gang members, city officials said.

The combination of criminal and civil remedies in the proposed ordinance, along with the ongoing Partners Against Crime program and code enforcement, is expected to prevent gangs from establishing their turfs in Palmdale, according to City Attorney Matt Ditzhazy.

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