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Redwood City rolls out new youth program to curb downtown disruptions

The pilot program is a direct response to the community’s concerns about disruptive youth behavior in downtown Redwood City and what the police call the Bike Life movement
The ACE program was developed as a response to the community’s concerns about disruptive youth behavior in downtown Redwood City.

After months of listening to community concerns over what the city has called disruptive youth in downtown Redwood City, law enforcement and community organizations have teamed up to roll out a pilot program aimed at fostering positive relationships with youth in the "Bike Life movement" in Redwood City and North Fair Oaks. 

On Monday, Sept. 12, the city council voted to approve the ‘Action, Create and Engage’ (ACE) program for transition-age youth, those 12 to 24. 

“The ACE Program will support youth development and empowerment, while also ensuring accountability for unsafe behavior. We are eager to get started,” said Melissa Stevenson Diaz, city manager of Redwood City. 

The program was developed in partnership with Redwood City Together and the Redwood City Police Activities League (PAL) as a direct response to the community’s concerns about disruptive youth behavior in downtown Redwood City and what the police call the Bike Life movement, where kids express "themselves in their bike riding and then [showcase] it through various social media platforms," said Redwood City Police Chief Dan Mulholland at the Police Advisory Committee meeting in June. 

The activity came to a head at the end of May when more than 200 kids on bikes turned out on Courthouse Square and began igniting fireworks and blocking sidewalks and streets. Two juveniles were arrested. According to police, the kids were asked to disperse, but instead, officers had items thrown at them. The fireworks could be heard inside the nearby Fox Theatre where Pakistani activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai was speaking to hundreds of people.

Mulholland described the fireworks as dangerous to the community and similar to "explosives."

Community members, property owners, and businesses have expressed concern about disruptive and unsafe behavior, including blocking sidewalks, interfering with traffic, property damage and use of illegal fireworks close to people. 

“The ACE program epitomizes our mission to nurture the next generation of leaders in our community through fostering positive relationships between community leaders and law enforcement,” said Ivan Martinez, Redwood City PAL executive director.

The pilot program will aim to address youth crime, truancy and criminal disobedience in our community.

Through the program, PAL, in partnership with other community organizations, will offer after-school programs, bike events, entertainment activities, coaching and mentorships and events.

“As a collective front, we will be able to support more transition-age youth and their families by linking them to needed job opportunities and social services, especially in underrepresented and underserved communities,” said Rafael Avendaño, Redwood City Together executive director.

While developing the program and engaging with youth, the City contacted philanthropic organizations to secure funding. As a result of those efforts, the City is pleased to announce that The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has granted the City $230,000 in support of youth programming and activities in support of this plan.

The city and its partners are seeking additional potential financial contributors to help fund the remaining balance of the pilot program; the estimated cost is $350,000. If interested in donating, please contact the city manager’s office at (650) 780-7300.

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Michelle Iracheta

About the Author: Michelle Iracheta

Michelle Iracheta is the editor at the Redwood City Pulse. Her work has appeared in the Houston Chronicle, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, The Seattle Times and the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. She enjoys spending time with her mini doodle, Kooper.
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