Sunnyside nuisance law aimed at gang houses
Ross Courtney (Yakima Herald-Republic) | August 15, 2010
SUNNYSIDE — Rattled by three homicides in July, the Sunnyside City Council this week approved a nuisance ordinance that will give city officials the options of using tickets and abatement orders to crack down on suspected gang houses.
However, council members postponed a separate request for a juvenile curfew, saying they liked the idea but wanted more statistics from Police Chief Ed Radder about when kids commit crimes.
“Once we get the data that supports the curfew, then I stand behind it and support it,” said Councilman Paul Garcia. The chronic nuisance property control ordinance is aimed at the houses and apartments Radder called “bases of operations” for gangs.
“It deals with that house next door that everybody knows about,” Radder said.
The ordinance would declare a nuisance property as one at which three or more nuisance violations happen within 180 days. A nuisance involves a wide array of crimes, ranging from drug violations to litter and firearms to animal control problems. It also includes criminal street gang activity.
Curbing crime, namely gang violence, is one of the city’s highest priorities, officials said. Police called two of the three homicides in July gang-related.
Resident Vicki Escobar appreciates it.
She spoke in favor of both the nuisance ordinance and the curfew Monday, telling council members that two drive-by shootings occurred in June in her 14th Street neighborhood. One of them left a bullet hole in the home of her parents, who live just a couple of doors down from her.
“There’s just too much that is going on here in our town,” she said.
However, the council balked at the proposed curfew, which would let police write tickets for $100 to $250 to kids younger than 18 caught in a public place between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Council members will vote on the proposal Aug. 23.
Sunnyside has had a curfew law for 15 or more years but stopped enforcing it after a similar ordinance in the state was struck down as unconstitutional, Radder said. This time, the drafted law offers 10 exceptions, including coming home from a ballgame or a job or running an errand for a parent.
Image source: kimatv.com
Tags: gang curfew, nuisance ordinance, Sunnyside gangs