Chapter 7.144


7.144.010    Purpose of chapter.

7.144.020    Definitions.

7.144.030    Prohibition on the use of physical force.

7.144.040    Exception.

7.144.050    Private cause of action.

7.144.060    Civil penalties for violation.

7.144.070    Violation deemed misdemeanor—Penalty.

7.144.080    Other remedies.

7.144.090    Severability.

7.144.100    No conflict with Federal or State law.

7.144.110    No creation of a duty on the part of the County.

7.144.010 Purpose of chapter.

The purpose of this chapter is to prohibit, with identified exceptions, the use of force against children who are being transported by private, for-profit companies that are executing a removal order issued by a court or transporting them at the direction of a parent or legal guardian. By way of example, it is intended to apply in situations where a Superior Court orders a child to be removed from their residence for parent reunification proceedings or requested by a parent or legal guardian to transport a child to substance abuse treatment or similar placements or facilities. The intent of the chapter is to prevent children from experiencing trauma when physical force is used to remove and transport them against their will and to create penalties against businesses and individuals who violate this chapter. [Ord. 5433 § 1, 2023].

7.144.020 Definitions.

The definitions set forth in this section shall govern the application and interpretation of this chapter.

(A)    “Aggrieved person” means a child subjected to physical force as set forth in this chapter, or any person with custody rights associated with that child.

(B)    “Child” or “Children” means an individual or individuals under the age of 18 years.

(C)    “Physical force,” for purposes of this chapter, means touching, lifting, grabbing, pushing, pinching, hitting, striking, physically holding or restraining, using a restraint mechanism or weapon, or threatening to take these or similar actions, in order to encourage or accomplish the transport of a child.

(D)    “Transport Business,” for purposes of this chapter, means a person, business, or entity of whatever corporate form, which is engaged in the commercial business activity or operation of transporting children from their location in the unincorporated area of Santa Cruz County to a new location or facility upon the order of a Superior Court or at the direction of the child’s parent or legal guardian. Government agency employees, including peace officers, detention or custodial staff, probation staff, health and human services staff, or similar employees, or the government entities that employ them, who transport children in the context of juvenile, behavioral health, or criminal proceedings, are not considered “Transport Businesses” for purposes of this chapter. [Ord. 5433 § 1, 2023].

7.144.030 Prohibition on the use of physical force.

It is unlawful and prohibited for a Transport Business to use physical force against a child when removing that child from a location within the unincorporated area of Santa Cruz County and transporting that child to a new location. [Ord. 5433 § 1, 2023].

7.144.040 Exception.

The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to incidents of reasonable physical force used by a Transport Business against a child when necessary to protect that child from self-inflicted physical harm or in order to prevent physical harm to others. The term “reasonable physical force” shall be interpreted consistently with the legal principles and analyses that govern review of allegations of excessive force within the context of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and 42 U.S.C. Section 1983, with the intention that where force is used, only the lowest level of necessary force to address a situation is acceptable. [Ord. 5433 § 1, 2023].

7.144.050 Private cause of action.

Any aggrieved person may enforce the provisions of this chapter by means of a private civil action. [Ord. 5433 § 1, 2023].

7.144.060 Civil penalties for violation.

A person found by a court to have violated SCCC 7.144.030 shall be liable to the aggrieved person for civil penalties in the amount of $10,000 plus attorneys’ fees and the costs of the action. In addition, punitive damages may be awarded in a proper case as determined by a judge or jury. [Ord. 5433 § 1, 2023].

7.144.070 Violation deemed misdemeanor—Penalty.

Any person violating any of the provisions of this chapter or any regulation or rule passed in accordance herewith shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine of not more than $500.00 or by imprisonment for a period of not more than six months, or by both such fine and imprisonment. [Ord. 5433 § 1, 2023].

7.144.080 Other remedies.

Nothing in this chapter shall preclude any person from seeking any other remedies, penalties, or procedures provided by law to address the conduct prohibited under this chapter. [Ord. 5433 § 1, 2023].

7.144.090 Severability.

If any word, phrase, sentence, part, section, subsection, or other portion of this chapter, or any application thereof to any person or circumstance, is declared void, unconstitutional, or invalid for any reason, then such word, phrase, sentence, part, section, subsection, or other portion, or the proscribed application thereof, shall be severable, and the remaining provisions of this chapter, and all applications thereof, not having been declared void, unconstitutional or invalid, shall remain in full force and effect. The County of Santa Cruz hereby declares that it would have adopted this chapter, and each section, subsection, sentence, clause, and phrase thereof, irrespective of the fact that any one or more sections, subsections, sentences, clauses, or phrases had been declared invalid or unconstitutional. [Ord. 5433 § 1, 2023].

7.144.100 No conflict with Federal or State law.

Nothing in this chapter shall be interpreted or applied so as to create any requirement, power, or duty in conflict with any Federal or State law. [Ord. 5433 § 1, 2023].

7.144.110 No creation of a duty on the part of the County.

In enacting this chapter, the County is undertaking to promote the general welfare through creation of a private cause of action for violation of proscribed conduct. It is not creating an obligation or duty on the part of its officers or employees to take action to remedy asserted violations of this chapter. [Ord. 5433 § 1, 2023].