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October 01, 2004

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Publication Date: Friday, October 01, 2004

Teen group asks the big questions Teen group asks the big questions (October 01, 2004)

Info on dress code, curfew, jobs and more

By Lanvy Nguyen

Ever feel as if you don't know enough about the city you're living in? Totally oblivious to your own surroundings? Unfamiliar with Mountain View and its greatness?

Now there's no need to be. About 30 middle and high school teens met with Mayor Matt Pear on Aug. 27 to ask him how the city works and how teens fit in. Then, members of the city's Youth Advisory Group, which sponsored the event, sought the help of outside experts.

Here are the answers to Mountain View teens' most frequently asked questions.

High school FAQ

Q: Why did the dress code change at Mountain View High School?

A: There were numerous issues with distracting clothing last year. We fielded complaints from students, teachers and parents and felt that it was time to put some basic rules in place to help students understand what is acceptable in a "work" environment.

Q: Why is parking so limited at and around Mountain View High?

A: Residents adjacent to Mountain View High School requested the parking prohibitions because students would often park in front of the homes near the high school. During class breaks, at lunchtime and after school, students would often congregate around their cars in front of the homes. When the students went back to the classrooms or went home, they often left significant amounts of trash in the front yards.

What about the curfew?

Q: Does the city of Mountain View have a curfew for teens? If so, why?

A: The city does have a curfew ordinance (10 p.m., 7 days a week). The ordinance was presented and approved by the city council for several reasons. However, the most compelling of reasons was simply for the safety of the youth of our community. Far too often officers found youth out at unusual hours of the night with no specific purpose. This puts the youths at risk as the later it gets, and the less activity there is in the community, the greater the likelihood that they will become victims of crime.

Q: Up to what age does the curfew apply?

A: The curfew is for persons under age 18.

Q: What happens if police find a teen walking around after curfew?

A: If a youth is noticed by an officer out after curfew they will be contacted by the officer. The purpose of this is to simply determine if they are out on legitimate business. The officer may confirm this information and make sure the parents are aware by calling the youth's residence.

If they are found to be in violation of the curfew, they would be transported home, or a parent would be called to pick them up and they may receive a citation.

Q: How is curfew enforced?

A: The department responds only when police do not specifically assign officers to look for curfew violations. Its response is only when a person calls into report an incident or when the officer happens to observe a person who is subject to curfew out without any legitimate reason.

Community

Q: Why did the schools ask each student's parent/guardian to donate $200 (middle schools) or $600 (high schools) this year? What will this money be used for?

A: Parents of Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District students operate the MVLA High School Foundation, which raises funds to support academic programs at our schools. This year they have committed to providing a gift of $500,000. In order to reach this number they are asking each family to donate $600 per high school student in our district.

Of course, parents give what they can or are willing to donate, so some contribute much more than the asked amount, and some contribute less or nothing.

Q: How does the city encourage a teen-friendly environment downtown?

A: There is a general policy to make downtown active and pedestrian oriented. The downtown offers a variety of businesses that are already used by teens such as the bookstores, cafe/coffee/tea houses and restaurants. Encouraging new/diverse retail will create more interest and activity that we hope will result in environment that attracts more families and teens.

Teen services

Q: Are there any city programs that help teens get jobs?

A: Each year, the city of Mountain View Recreation Division organizes the Teens At Work Fair. The fair is an opportunity for teens to explore job, internship and volunteer opportunities by meeting with local employers and getting advice from city, school and agency staff.

The city of Mountain View works closely with the NOVA Youth Employment Program to support teen employment needs in the community. For more information about NOVA services, visit its Web site at www.youthatwork.org or contact NOVA staff at youth@novaworks.org or (408) 522-9845.

Teens interested in building job skills and learning about a variety of careers, may want to consider taking advantage of the City of Mountain View Volunteer Services Program. For more information, call the Volunteer Services Program Office at 903-6607 or visit the City of Mountain View Web site at www.ci.mtnview.ca.us.

Q: How does city staff follow through on questions asked and recommendations given by delegates at the Mayor's Youth Conference?

A: In the past several years, the focus of the Mayor's Youth Conference has been on youth empowerment. The goal of the conference is to provide teens with the skills they need to make their community and personal goals a reality (rather than depending solely on adults to make the changes they wish to see). City staff then work with these youth to support them in achieving their goals.

Lanvy Nguyen is a junior at Los Altos High School.

Editor's Note: Answers were provided by Mountain View High School Principal Pat Hyland, Sgt. Keith Plamondon, Assistant Public Works Director Tim Ko, Economic Development Manager Ellis Berns, Police Chief Scott Vermeer, MVLA Union High School District Superintendent Rich Fischer, Youth Resources Manager Nancy Vandenberg, Citywide Volunteer Coordinator Rae Blasquez, NOVA Program Supervisor Russell Brunson, Recreation Supervisor Joanne Waszczak and Recreation Coordinator Cynthia Flosi.

For a full transcript of questions and answers at Share with Mayor Pear, contact Waszczak at 903-6618.


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