Cleveland Heights City Council passed an ordinance Wednesday night that sets curfew to 6 p.m. for anyone under 18 in the Coventry and Cedar Lee business districts.
Prompted by the , the city so the ordinance could be put in place before the long weekend.
The ordinance takes effect immediately.
Kids and teens under 18 must be accompanied by an adult or parent from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. unless they are running a specific errand for their parents or if they work in the areas.
The previous curfew laws were tailored to different age groups — kids younger than 12 had to be in by 6 p.m., 12 to 15-year-olds could stay out until 10:30 p.m. and those 16 to 18 didn't have to be home until midnight.
If anyone under 18 is caught without adult supervision past the restricted hours and without a valid purpose, they will be taken into custody. Parents must pay a $50 fine within 30 days or contest the penalty within seven days and meet with a board that will consist of Law Director John Gibbon, Police Chief Jeffrey Robertson and one city council member.
About 40 people attended the meeting, including 10 from a group that call themselves the Youth of Coventry. Members range from 14 to 22 years old, and officially formed after seeing what happened Sunday.
They support council's decision.
John Nelson, 22, one of the founders of the group, said he's been going to Coventry since he was a kid and has never seen it so bad.
His goal is to show the city that there are kids who care, and to try and prevent the crime that he's seen in the area. He and his friends call police when they see fights and other disturbances.
"We can better connect with the youth that are in the Cleveland Heights community," he said.
Some merchants applauded the decision, like Sheila Blecman, owner of
"Customers tell us that they're afraid to come to Coventry on the weekends," Blecman said. "I think it's a start — I'm glad the city is taking it as seriously as it needs to be taken."
Others were on the fence, like one of the owners of La Cave Du Vin, Erich LaSher, who said 10 years ago he would have never supported a curfew law. But sales have gone down by 35 percent, and after 16 years in that location, he may consider moving when it's time to renew his lease.
"It's not just the Coventry Street Fair. The issue is that every weekend I have customers who tell me, look, we just got hassled by a group of kids, and it's not always a giant group of kids," he said.
Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library Director Nancy Levin asked council to consider narrowing the provisions of the law to target kids who hang out in groups of 10 or more in a public area, for example.
"I do have to say that this law will affect quite a few library programs and the use of the library by teens," Levin said, adding that the library's role is to protect the civil liberties of patrons of all ages. "I don’t know how a policeman will be able to tell how old someone is or where they live ... This could be seen as harassment by some of the teens."
Cleveland Heights High School student Irreverence Bedwell, 17, called the ordinance "counterproductive."
"I think it’s almost counterproductive to the success of businesses and just the environment being positive and full of art and culture if the majority of the populace is withheld from being able to enjoy what our city has to offer," Bedwell said. "I think there are much more well-directed ways of dealing with the situation without having to turn our city into a prison.”
Council members emphasized that the ordinance is one that was passed on an emergency basis and will be revised as early as the next council meeting, scheduled Tuesday, July 5.
They also mentioned several times that most of the people causing problems Sunday were not from Cleveland Heights. Out of 16 arrested Sunday, two were from the city. But the .
"Let me emphasize to everyone that the majority of the people were not our Cleveland Heights youth," Mayor Ed Kelley said. "As a council we are proud of our young people who attend our (schools), and we know that in our schools they are being taught not only an education, but how to behave."
Council will likely add more parks and business districts where curfew will be enforced to the ordinance and more specific restrictions, Caplan said.
Caplan and Council Member Jason Stein partly blamed the use of social media sites like Twitter and technology like texting that are used to create "flash mobs," where people are able to quickly gather in one area. And it's not just happening in Cleveland Heights.
Several people sent tweets Sunday, encouraging people to go to Coventry.
"For the most part, they didn't come for trouble," Caplan said. "But they came because on their phones, whether it was Twitter or Facebook or whatever, Coventry was the place to be … the kids need to have a place to go, and there's no place to go."
Look for more from Wednesday night's meeting soon.