Council Watch: Curfew Kerfuffle

The Council Talks Bedtime Enforcement, Noise Violations And Summerfest

Carolyn Carlson
5 min read
Curfew Kerfuffle
(Robert Maestas)
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Do You Know Where Your Children Are?

Albuquerque City Councilors were set to hear a resolution calling for the Legislature to allow municipalities to enact curfews at their August 17 regular meeting. Councilor Ken Sanchez proposed the curfew idea after a couple of homicides involving teenagers.

But Governor Susana Martinez saved the Albuquerque City Council a chunk of debate time when she announced she intended to put a proposed change to the youth curfew law on the agenda of the upcoming state Legislature session. Councilor Sanchez withdrew his resolution but that did not stop the two dozen speakers from giving the council an earful. The proposed resolution says that a curfew would help cut teenage late night criminal activity and high-risk behavior. “My biggest concern is keeping children safe,” said Councilor Sanchez.

Albuquerque tried a curfew in 1994 under Mayor Martin Chavez. The curfew prohibited youth under 17 from being on the streets from midnight to 6 am on weekends and from 11 pm to 6 am on weekdays. The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico sued the city in 1995 saying curfew enforcement was essentially an illegal arrest. In 1999, the New Mexico Supreme Court struck down the city’s curfew and said it violated state law and the due process rights of minors, many of whom drive to and from work or studying or practices of various kinds, just like everyone else over 18. The ACLU continues to oppose curfews, as does common sense.

Hope Alvarado, a college sophomore who was formerly homeless at times during her high school days, reminded the council of the unseen homeless kids that would be most impacted by a curfew. “This is not a solution,” she said. Alvarado said the curfew would not impact her now but would impact the many homeless kids she knows are on the streets who are trying to work and go to school.

“The root of violence is poverty, not youth,” Amanda Gallegos, 17 said. She said the money to enforce the curfew would be better spent helping impoverished youth and their families escape poverty.

A number of youth speakers reminded the council that if the curfew idea proceeds they will be criminalizing soon-to-be voters. A couple of adults spoke in favor of a curfew saying it would help parents keep teens out of trouble.

Reporter’s take: Curfews don’t work. They never have and they never will. Curfews criminalize youth for no reason and create a feeding frenzy for some in the law and legal communities. How will cops know what kids are allowed out after curfew and for what reasons? Will there be a new “ID card” to allow for all “good” teens to be on the streets who are at work, studying at a library, or whatever exceptions are carved out, while all “bad” teens who were just coming home a little late from visiting with family or friends to be cited or jailed? Money spent trying to implement or even discuss such an idea as a curfew for any class of Americans, obviously could be better-spent boosting opportunity rather than marginalizing any class of citizens.

Party Problems

Councilor Benton questioned city administrator Gilbert Montaño about noise issues at the Rail Yards. Benton said he heard about a recent problem when a disc jockey at a Quinceañera with about 700 people attending refused to quit the jammin’ after the cut-off time. Councilor Garduño joked that the city better be careful trying to tone down Quinceañera festivities. Montaño said the city staff is looking at mitigating noise complaints.

Reporter’s take: Those planning to party at the historic Rail Yards should also plan on abiding by the rules.

Musical Minds

Councilors Isaac Benton and Sanchez waxed the praises of the city’s rotating Summerfest music line-ups such as A Room Full of Blues, Taylor Dayne, Smash Mouth and George Clinton. Councilor Benton got down right giddy. Councilor Garduño said he would like to see Dr. Dre at one of the Summerfests.

Reporter’s take: Councilors were spot on when commending the city’s Summerfest staff for an outstanding line up of top entertainment at the rotating summer festival. And any Councilor gets extra kudos for suggesting Dre.

He Said What?

Albuquerque’s own nudist and human rights activist Don Schrader addressed the council about the recent trend gay and transgender bashing. He spoke about how all human beings have hidden desires for homosexual encounters yet deny them.

Reporter’s take: Wow – Schrader has become a regular speaker at the meetings with his booming, dynamic delivery of an unusual and often shocking range of topics. To the mainstream he’s wacky, but in an age of global warming, species extinctions, struggling oceans, and smoke-filled tradewinds from fires everywhere, there is at least an internal logic within his topics that can range from how to live so that you don’t have to pay taxes, low water consumption, or the benefits of gay sex. Gotta hand it to him to show up and participate with an obviously thought out speech, if nothing else. If you don’t know who Don is and are curious, one can check him out on Google and YouTube. Often the wacky ones get “mainstream-ized” by others, down the road.

Do This

Mayor Richard Berry would like us all to recycle more—at least 2 pounds per person per month to be specific. Mayor Berry said the city needs to produce at least 38,400 tons a year or risk being financially penalized by the contracted recycling company. He said the city is almost there and producing about 34,000 tons a year, just short of the projected minimum. For more information log on to

Send your comments about the City Council to

The next meeting

Monday, Sept. 17, 5 p.m.

Council Chambers in the basement of City Hall

View it on GOV TV 16 or at

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