Hookahs: Not in my neighborhood!

If I had a dime for every time I heard an older adult lament the bad behavior of youth, I'd be a gazillionaire! The older generation complains about young people all the time, yet they never seem to offer a viable solution to the things they see as problems among the youth. Take for example, an interesting situation that has been going on in Napa Valley, California.

Napa Valley, long known as Ca
lifornia's wine country, is a popular destination for tourists. As a result, businesses in the Valley cater to visitors. Hot air balloon rides, winery tours, fine dining, and wine tasting events are great for tourists and, I'm sure, provide them with a wonderful vacation. However, there are people who actually live in Napa Valley -- people who have families. The teens of Napa Valley aren't old enough to participate in the alcohol related events and don't have the disposable income to afford the fine dining experience (and probably wouldn't be interested in it anyway). So what is a bored teen to do in Napa Valley?

Evidently, nothing. Businesses designed to cater to the locals tend to have run-ins with neighbors who don't want the teens in "their neighborhoods." The case of the Smoking Cat, according to a recent article in the Napa Valley Register, appears to be the norm. Kids come, they enjoy themselves in an environment where no alcohol is served, and neighbors complain. The Smoking Cat planned to serve hookahs on an outside patio, but the idea got neighbors up in arms. The old "not in my neighborhood" prevailed, and complaints from a neighbor and a nearby religious school brought the Smoking Cat before the Napa Planning Commission, where they were told that clients could not smoke, even on the outside patio, and that live music could not continue after 8 p.m.

With all of the adults howling about teens wreaking havoc and making trouble, it makes no sense to me that we wouldn't be seeking viable alternatives for them. Give teens a safe place to hang out with friends, allow them to express themselves on live mic night, and offer those who are of legal age a non-alcoholic way to socialize, and we might be surprised at what could happen. Provide teens with a solution to their boredom and we just might see them enjoying themselves in ways other than vandalizing property, partying without adult supervision, and generally causing mayhem.

Remember what John Milton said about being a careful considerer of human nature?

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