New Smyrna Beach, FL - The New Smyrna Beach mayor has been walking the streets to see exactly what his residents and police department have been dealing with as hundreds of unaccompanied minors fill the streets for spring break.
Mayor Russ Owen says the influx of young spring breakers is a part of a “new phenomena” he’s noticed with parents dropping off their children to stay in town unsupervised. He talked about teens being left behind at the city’s hotels as parents return home in an interview with News Daytona Beach.
“They go enjoy their week, basically independently and leave the children unsupervised,” said Owen. “I’ve talked to numerous kids, and they would say ‘I haven’t seen my parent in two days.’”
Owen said he has run into some minors who are visiting the area with their parents. He has also met some unsupervised minors who were also polite and cordial, even when they’re in small groups. But he says when the groups get big and the kids get bored, the mischief begins.
“There’s nothing for them to do in New Smyrna Beach after dark,” said Owen. “The beach is closed, many establishments on Flagler are 18+ or even 21+.”
The city’s hotels are making it clear that they’re fed up with the rowdiness their employees have been dealing with all week. According to Owen, some hotels are starting to enact zero tolerance policies when it comes to dealing with unaccompanied minors.
That means if an employee is called up to a room to deal with a complaint—Owen said it's typically a noise complaint—and that room is full of unaccompanied minors, they will be booted from the property and trespassed. Especially if they find alcohol.
Underaged drinking is another problem residents of the city have noticed among the juvenile spring breakers. Jack Protzman, the owner of Beachie Bean’s Coffee House on Flagler Avenue, spoke to the city commission during a special meeting on Wednesday (March 16) that was called to address public safety concerns. He shared an encounter he had with a teen found drinking.
“There was a young gentleman there with a 12 pack of beer, like it was a badge of honor sitting there openly drinking it,” said Protzman. “He was 14-years-old.”
NSB Police Chief Mike Coffin spoke at that meeting too and said his department was prepared for spring break as they knew it, but not in the way they’re experiencing it now. His department is now stepping up their police presence in hopes to keep the peace.
The result of that meeting was the approval of a new 60-day “youth curfew.” The curfew applies to unaccompanied youth under 18 and large groups of 30 or more. Minors are not allowed east of Riverside Drive and groups are banned in the city limits from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.
The first violation is a warning, subsequent violations are $50 to $100, or community service applied at the minimum wage rate. In Florida that’s $10 an hour, meaning violators could serve up to 10 hours of community service.
You can read the curfew's ordinance here. You can also view the special meeting in its entirety here.
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