Placer considers social host ordinance to combat underage drinking

Published on March 20, 2018

UPDATE: The Board of Supervisors formally adopted the social host ordinance at their April 10 meeting.

CORRECTION: A previous news release indicated the social host ordinance had been adopted and would go into effect within 30 days. Placer County's social host ordinance was introduced and is now scheduled to return to the board for adoption on Tuesday, April 10. Should it be adopted at that time, it would go into effect 30 days later.

At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, a social host ordinance designed to deter underage drinking and substance use in private homes was introduced. The new ordinance would apply to the unincorporated areas of the county, and holds adults responsible for gatherings on their property that allow for a minor’s use of alcohol, cannabis or controlled substances.

Placer County's social host ordinance is scheduled to return to the board for adoption Tuesday, April 10. Should it be adopted at that time, it would go into effect 30 days later. Law enforcement would be able to cite individuals who host an underage drinking party on their property, whether or not they themselves purchased the alcohol. Fines range from $100 to $500, and violators may also be responsible for additional costs associated with first responders. Parties are defined as social gatherings of three or more people.

The ordinance is similar to others passed over the last three years in the cities of Roseville, Rocklin, Lincoln and Auburn. A key force behind efforts to pass these ordinances has been the Placer County Youth Commission, a group of Placer County high school students appointed by the Board of Supervisors to encourage youth voice in local community decision making. The commission has worked on initiatives to reduce underage alcohol, cannabis and controlled substance use. 

Alcohol is a major contributor to teen death and injuries and research shows that alcohol can harm the developing teen brain.

“Parties in private homes are considered the most frequent source of alcohol for most youth,” said Claire Jordan, senior at Oakmont High School, vice president of the commission and chair of the social host ordinance subcommittee. “The social host ordinance is a tool for culture change so that healthier norms are established in our community.”

“I want to applaud the efforts of the Placer County Youth Commission to create a safer community where our youth can survive and thrive,” said Placer County Health and Human Services Director Jeff Brown. “We’re proud to stand behind them in their commitment to alcohol and drug prevention.”

There are some exceptions to punishment through the ordinance, including exemption of people seeking medical assistance for someone in danger of overdosing. Read the full ordinance (PDF) to learn more.