The line between “hanging out” and loitering


MONTCLARION NEWSPAPER – May 15, 2009

IT’S 4 P.M. DO you know where your kids are? If they’re meeting friends in Montclair, they may be part of an ongoing problem with loitering.

As the school year winds down and the weather gets warm, kids find it cool to hang out. And with the library closed, (mold removal) even more teens are taking to the streets.

The bigger the group, the more potential for trouble, as witnessed by a shopper who saw several youths tossed out of Rite Aid the other day.

“I don’t even like to patronize Montclair with that kind of energy,” says reader Sue Oesher, who admits feeling intimidated by large groups of teens with seemingly nothing to do. “Does Montclair need to kick in for a social worker?” she wonders. “Should we be offering more after-school activities?”

Or how about just enforcing the laws on the books? Isn’t there an ordinance against loitering? Shouldn’t we have a beat officer who can “nudge” the kids to disperse or at least remind them of their manners? The sidewalks are not meant to be strewn with backpacks and skateboards, and a business district is no place for loud voices and vulgarity.

“I’ve asked our private security people to act as friendly correctors of the exuberant activity,” said Roger Vickery with the Montclair Village Association, who says most of the kids congregate on Wednesday afternoons, when school lets out early.

But disciplining our teens shouldn’t just fall on a fe

store managers and bank security guards. Ultimately, it’s the parents’ responsibility, and if they can’t handle it, police should step in.

Meter Musings: Speaking of bad business, readers continue to weigh in on Oakland’s parking enforcement regulations.

“One critical thing I believe omitted from your excellent review,” writes Bennett Hall, “is the impact this system has on our local ‘mom and pop’ stores “…” He says every parking ticket issued is a signal to the recipient that says “do not shop this district again.”

Merchants — I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Drop me a line.

E-mail Bag: Reader George Saucedo is extending his annual invitation to the U.S. Geological Survey Open House in Menlo Park Saturday and Sunday, May 16 and 17. If you’ve ever wanted to pick the brains of the nation’s leading earthquake scientists, this is your chance. See openhouse.wr.usgs.gov/ for more information.

In Memory: It’s with sadness that I report the passing of a native Montclarion, trombonist Steve Witser. An acclaimed musician with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, he died unexpectedly April 28 of a heart attack. Witser grew up in the hills, and took up the trombone at the urging of his mother, who didn’t want two trumpets in the house (his big brother had first choice of instruments).

“Steve was such a great trombone player, he was giving instruction privately when he was in 9th grade,” remembers classmate Erik Hoffmann. Witser attended Thornhill Elementary, Montera Middle School and Skyline High before going on to college at Cal State Hayward. “He was truly one of the nicest guys I have ever known,” Hoffmann said.

Witser’s life and career were in sweet harmony, as he balanced music with his many other passions — family, teaching, gardening, running and riding motorcycles.

Like the sound of his trombone, Witser lived richly and boldly. At 48, he was taken from the world much too soon.

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