Some Lehi residents believe the city has lost control of its Main Street.
Teenagers cruise the street on Friday and Saturday nights, often in such numbers that the traffic is "bumper to bumper" and any one trying to cross Main Street is virtually unable to do so.In addition, residents on Main Street say the noise from honking horns, blaring radios and screams and shouts is non-stop from early evening until 2 a.m., preventing them from getting any sleep.
During a recent City Council meeting, Berl Peterson presented a petition signed by 73 residents asking the council to stop the late-night cruising.
"We, as citizens, feel we have just as much right for a little bit of peace and quiet as any one else in the city," said Peterson. "Something needs to be done about this problem. We're tired of it. We think you've lost control of your Main Street."
Peterson asked the council to enact new laws or provide better enforcement of existing laws to achieve peace and quiet on Main Street after 10 p.m.
"This has been going on for some time," said Mayor George Tripp. "In August, I asked the police chief to put on extra officers at time and a half to try to curb the problem. It helped some but not enough. We'll have to do something else."
Tripp said the council will review anti-cruising ordinances passed in other cities to see if Lehi might adopt a similar measure.
He said in addition to complaints from residents, the city has received complaints from businesses along Main Street about litter being left in parking lots.
However, several businesses contacted by the Deseret News said the problem is insignificant.
Gary Nelson, owner of Colonial House on Main Street, said his primary concern is safety.
"The kids speed down the alley behind my business so fast that sometime someone's going to get hurt," Nelson said. "The city needs to take preventative action rather than waiting until after the fact."
Police Chief Bill Gibbs said the increased patrolling has helped, but that curfew laws don't apply to people over age 18, and many of the other laws that might apply are hard to enforce. "They see the police car coming," said Gibbs, "and they take off."
Gibbs said many kids were using a vacant lot on Main Street to congregate. But the owner recently gave the department permission to enforce a parking prohibition on the lot.
Residents at the council meeting suggested the city move its curfew from 1 a.m. to midnight, prohibit parking along Main Street in the evening, install a traffic light to facilitate street crossing and pass an ordinance against cruising.
Lehi is limited in what it can do on Main Street because it is a state road. Any ordinance involving the road or right of way requires approval by the Department of Transportation.
Provo City has also struggled with cruising problems. Police Capt. Duane Fraser said Provo chained off sections of its Center Street at night several years ago. The action was effective but has not been used recently. "We try to have a very concentrated patrol to enforce drug, alcohol, curfew and traffic violations," said Fraser. "We try to let them know who's in charge and keep a lid on things when it starts up in the spring."
American Fork Police Chief John Durrant described cruising as "a historical social phenomenon that came with the automobile and will probably leave with the automobile." He said kids cruise State Street in American Fork, congregating along the road, but that other than debris left in front of businesses, aren't creating a serious problem.
However, neither Provo nor American Fork has many residences on or near the streets being cruised.
"I feel for the citizens along Main Street," said Councilman Guy Cash. "I'm not for harassing our youths, but I'm not for allowing them to harass our citizens either."