LOS FELIZ—Los Angeles Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell is defending his proposal to ban adults without children in playground areas of publicly owned playgrounds.
O’Farrell is the councilmember of the 13th district, which consists of Los Feliz, Hollywood, Echo Park, Atwater Village and Silverlake. His proposal to limit access to a city park’s playground for only children and their parents or guardians originally arose from trying to improve safety by cutting down on drug dealing. His proposal includes ticketing adults for being in playground areas marked with signage stating limited access.
In a statement, O’Farrell said, “As City leaders, we owe this to families to create safe spaces for their children at City play areas. Our park facilities should be a safe haven, and we must do our part to provide shelter for our kids.”
Although the ordinance is not a law and still has to go through several city hearings for public comment and before being voted on by the city council, O’Farrell’s proposal was met with criticism.
“Blocking the public from public places is outrageous,” wrote one user on social media. The Los Angeles Times editorial board wrote that the law would assume “every adult without a child is a pedophile.”
O’Farrell’s statement mentions that state law already makes it a criminal offense to loiter at a playground or school with an unlawful purpose. His proposal is based on laws in other cities, such as New York, Santa Monica, and Miami Beach, that also limits people in specific parts of city parks. In 2010, controversy sparked in New York when adults received tickets for eating doughnuts and playing chess in a playground.
Despite opposition to his proposition, O’Farrell said he is sticking to it to keep play areas safe from drug dealers “and other disturbing behavior.”
“I want to reassure you — this is not a ban on adults without children from using our parks. This proposal is limited and affects a small area of the park. I want all Angelenos to enjoy our recreational activities, and I especially want our children and their families to feel safe in any environment,” O’Farrell said in a statement.