Joe Nelson, Staff Writer
Posted: 05/25/2010 06:21:26 PM PDT

SAN BERNARDIN0 – Adults who host rowdy parties and allow minors to drink alcohol in their homes will be subject to hefty administrative fines under a new law approved by the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

The “social hosting ordinance” returns to the board on June 15 for adoption and goes into effect 30 days thereafter.

Under the new ordinance, adults, in addition to facing fines and other penalties imposed by the state, would be required to cover the cost of police responding to their homes through administrative fines.

“The issue with the social hosting ordinance, we’re hoping, is that there’ll be consequences for people hosting these parties. They’ll hit them in the pocketbook,” said Beverlee Spencer, program supervisor for the Central Valley Prevention Program in Colton, a drug rehabilitation center for teen-agers.

The cities of Ontario and Pomona have adopted social host ordinances in recent years to deter underage drinking and loud, unruly house parties.

In Fontana, police have been working with the Fontana Community Coalition on an ordinance, which is now under review by the city attorney, Fontana Police Chief Rod Jones said.

“I’m hopeful to get it before the City Council in June or July,” Jones said.

Ontario led the charge in 2008 when it adopted its ordinance, police Officer Fred Alvarez said. He said it has been an effective deterrent in underage drinking.

Under Ontario’s ordinance, adults are subject to fines ranging from $250 to $1,000 for condoning underage drinking. In addition, adults who host loud and unruly house parties prompting police response could face fines of up to $1,500, Alvarez said.

The high cost of infraction seems to have thwarted violations, he said.

“Everybody has been very compliant,” Alvarez said.

Raising awareness of the dangers of underage drinking has been a hot-button topic as of late.

A community forum on underage drinking was held from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday at the Big Bear Discovery Center, with Supervisor Neil Derry serving as the keynote speaker.

The message was clear: Underage drinking kills.

According to data by the American Medical Association, alcohol is the leading cause of death among teen-agers.

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