Drinking rules revisited January 6, 2010 1 Comment Share tweet Ellen Huet By: Ellen Huet Stanford’s one-year exemption from Santa Clara County’s social host ordinance to crack down on underage drinking is up for re-evaluation by county officials later this month. The ordinance, which went into effect in January 2009 and applies to unincorporated areas of the county such as the University, holds accountable parents and those over 21 who host parties where underage drinking occurs. The penalties are civil, not criminal, and one warning can be issued before violators are fined. Because of Stanford’s pre-existing “extensive” program to curtail underage drinking, the University was granted a one-year exemption from the ordinance to continue efforts free from the county’s new regulation. The results of the past year will be presented to the county’s board of supervisors for evaluation at its board meeting on Jan. 26. Stanford officials suggested that the language changes they will propose would make the exemption more permanent; the past year’s exemption, they said, was successful. “[The current set-up] has worked very well this past year,” said Jean McCown, Stanford’s director of community relations. “Obviously we have an extensive set of alcohol policies on campus, and the original intent [of the ordinance] was already being upheld by Stanford.” Liz Kniss, president of the county board of supervisors, whose district includes Stanford, said as much. “As far as I can say, there haven’t been any incidents that show a problem with the current exemption Stanford has from the ordinance,” she said. “We’ve worked well with them in the past, and I have faith we’ll find an agreement for the future.” McCown said that this time, however, Stanford isn’t hoping for an extension of the exemption, but would rather have the language of the ordinance changed to accommodate Stanford’s unique situation in a more permanent way — a change she said was very “technical.” “Our suggestion [a year ago] was for a change in the ordinance language,” she said. “[The county] found it simpler to just exempt us, but it never quite felt like the best way.” Both McCown and Substance Abuse Prevention Program Manager Ralph Castro said the University is planning to meet with county staff to sketch out possible language changes for the next year. But supervisors say they are not sure what the outcome will be. “It’s too early to say,” Kniss said. “Stanford is a particular aspect of dealing with this, and it needs to be dealt with as a particular segment.” Kniss echoed McCown in emphasizing that no matter the outcome of the meeting, the goals of the county and the University are the same: to reduce underage drinking. Stanford’s exemption was scheduled to be considered at the Dec. 15 supervisors’ meeting, but was postponed because Stanford spokespeople weren’t yet ready to present their case. Jean McCown Liz Kniss Ralph Castro Santa Clara County social host ordinance underage drinking 2010-01-06 Ellen Huet January 6, 2010 1 Comment Share tweet Subscribe Click here to subscribe to our daily newsletter of top headlines.