Since Greenwood voted not to adopt the social host ordinance, buzz around the ordinance seemed to fade among the other South Lake Minnetonka cities, until now.
Shorewood City Council Member Laura Hotvet wanted to bring the topic back to the forefront after chatting with Minnetonka School District's Tonka Cares coordinator Imogen Davis.
The city council discussed the idea of the ordinance at its July 23 meeting, despite SLMPD Chief Brian Litsey and Davis' absences due to scheduling conflicts.
No vote was made at the meeting, though a draft of the ordinance will be presented at the council's Aug. 13 meeting.
Mayor Chris Lizée pointed out that there are two new council members sincethe council saw a draft of the ordinance in 2009.
The social host ordinance penalizes anyone who knowingly provides a venue for underage drinking.
Minnetonka adopted its social host ordinance in May 2009. Shorewood considered a draft based on Minnetonka's ordinance at its June 22, 2009, meeting, but there wasn't a vote and the issue wasn't revisited.
The social host ordinance has been officially rejected three times in Minnesota. Greenwood, Carver County and Winona County voted against it, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
In 2009, Litsey wrote a memo encouraging SLMPD's cities, which include Tonka Bay, Excelsior, Greenwood and Shorewood, to adopt a common social host ordinance.
The Greenwood City Council voted not to adopt the ordinance at its Aug. 6, 2009, meeting. The council felt it was more of an education issue rather than an enforcement issue and that the ordinance wouldn't protect parents who have alcohol in their home.
Excelsior and Tonka Bay took no formal vote on the issue over the years.
At the July 23 discussion, Shorewood's Public Works Director, and former interim city administrator, Larry Brown said the ordinance has "stood the test of time" in Minnetonka and now may be the time for Shorewood to look at adopting this ordinance.
Minnetonka Police Chief Mark Raquet said since the adoption of the ordinance in 2009, the department has issued only four citations.
However, the ordinance has been helpful for police officers. Raquet said proving who provided the alcohol was an obstacle for law enforcement.
"The social host ordinance kind of closes that loophole and allows us to hold the homeowner and/or one of the residents responsible," he said.
Overall, underage drinking citations have dropped by two thirds in Minnetonka since 2007, Raquet said. In addition to the social host ordinance, Raquet credits Tonka Cares and Hopkins School District's One Voice Coalition for educating people about underage drinking.
"I think between our social host and all that information that's been put out there, I think it's helped in a drastic reduction in our citations that we're issuing to kids nowadays," he said.
Hotvet said now is the time for Shorewood to adopt the social host ordinance.
"At this time, the SLMPD and Minnetonka School District are asking cities to consider adopting an ordinance that holds hosts liable for any known underage drinking occurring at their place of residence," Hotvet said. "By supporting our local partners, the SLMPD, the school district and the city of Minnetonka, and learning more about what an ordinance like this would mean for our residents, Shorewood would be showing solidarity in our message of making safety for our residents a top priority."
At the July 23 meeting, Council Member Dick Woodruff said he saw the ordinance draft in 2009 and feels the same now as he did then.
"Based on what happened three years ago and what I see in the packet, I have all the same concerns about this thing that I did three years ago when I said I didn't think that I wanted to adopt it," he said. "I certainly would be willing to participate in any discussion if we have some new information or some updated information on what's going on."
More than 80 cities in Minnesota have adopted the ordinance since Chaska was the first back in 2007. Most recently in the Lake Minnetonka area, Plymouth and Hopkins adopted the social host ordinance.
Plymouth hasn't cited anyone under the ordinance since adopting it about a year ago, according to Tammy Ward, Plymouth's administrative manager.
Lizée said adopting the ordinance could be a chance for Shorewood to be a leader and perhaps other SLMPD cities would follow.
"I think if there were other interested cities, especially if Shorewood takes the leadership, that there would probably be reconsideration," she said.
Litsey, a strong supporter of the ordinance, would like to see consistent social host ordinances in the SLMPD cities modeled after Minnetonka's ordinance since they are in the Minnetonka School District.
"Hopefully this time around, if the city of Shorewood is taking the lead on this that the other cities that we serve will take it up also again and give it serious consideration. It would be nice if all four cities adopted a similar or the same ordinance," he said.