As summer approaches and schools let out in coming weeks, Chandler teens will continue their nightly quest for something to do.
The journey often takes them to such venues as movie theaters and the Chandler Fashion Center, site of a 2005 police crackdown that left 130 youth with citations for violating curfew.
It has almost been two years since the summer sweep of violators. On the heels of the controversial action, the Chandler City Council asked teens on the Mayor’s Youth Commission how the city could provide alternatives to hanging out at the mall.
In December, 2005, the commission recommended better educating teens about the curfew law and providing more youth-oriented activities in Chandler, said Sara C. de Baca, liaison for the Mayor’s Youth Commission.
They specifically asked for venues with indoor rock-climbing, go-cart racing, laser tag, arcades, water parks, miniature golf, teen coffee shops and underage music venues.
The city has worked to get the word out about curfew laws and continues to open public recreation facilities and parks — but struggles to draw youth-oriented businesses, officials said.
City Councilman Matt Orlando said the city has a skate park, recently opened a BMX park, and should be opening an all-purpose recreation center at Tumbleweed Park in 2008.
An additional recreation center in north Chandler is on the drawing board, he said.
The city also continues to work to attract youth-oriented businesses, said Harry Paxton, an economic development specialist for Chandler.
However, a city’s residential community often develops before entertainment venues can be brought in, he said. And with rising prices to lease property, some businesses don’t find it lucrative to have a venue that is only open on the weekends to cater to teens, he said.
There are some businesses that teens frequent in Chandler, such as the Coffee Rush and Desert Schools Coyotes Center, an indoor ice rink, city officials said. And, of course, the mall.
Chandler Fashion Center spokeswoman Munira Smith said that to meet the summer crowds, the mall plans to post signs in the food court and theater parking area this week to remind people about the curfew law.
“The main concern is making sure that all of our customers are having an enjoyable shopping experience and that includes the teenagers,” Smith said.
According to Chandler police data, in 2004 officers issued 272 citations for curfew violations. In 2005, that the number jumped to 416. Last year citations dropped to 239.
Chandler police Sgt. Rick Griner said police aren’t planning any special details to enforce curfew. However, he advises parents to know where their children are, who they are with and what time they need picking up.
Griner said police enforce curfew laws not just to keep teens out of trouble but to protect them from other people.