RIVERSIDE – An ordinance limiting where convicted sex offenders can reside in Riverside County will stay on the books, but local restrictions on where they can hang out will no longer remain in force, following a 5-0 vote today by the Board of Supervisors.
The county’s Sex Offender Residency Ordinance, No. 902, was rewritten by the Office of County Counsel to reflect court rulings that effectively quash local efforts by cities and counties to ban sex registrants from loitering in locations frequented by children.
To avoid potential lawsuits over the county’s anti-loitering regulations, the board last month ordered that Ordinance 902 be repealed in part, so that provisions prohibiting sex offenders from standing or relaxing within 300 feet of a school, park, bus stop, library, public swimming pool or similar location where children gather be deleted.
A time, place and manner restriction that made it illegal for offenders to partake in Halloween festivities was also dropped.
However, residency requirements stipulating that no two convicted sex offenders live under the same roof, and no motel, hotel or other transient occupancy facility lease more than 10 percent of its space to convicted sex offenders, were preserved.
The county regulations were implemented in July 2010 in response to a California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation proposal to release a convicted child rapist and killer, Donald Schmidt, to a Perris-area group home. The facility was around the corner from an elementary school.
In the face of public pressure, state officials ended up sending Schmidt to another location.
In the last two years, the Fourth District Court of Appeals ruled in decisions stemming from challenges to similar ordinances in Irvine and Orange County that the anti-loitering and residency restrictions imposed on convicted sex offenders were too onerous and conflicted with state parole measures already in place.
The Office of County Counsel noted that Penal Code section 290, requiring lifetime sex offender registration with law enforcement, along with companion measures, provide a number of protections that the county’s ordinance was intended to ensure.
Under state law, a convicted sex offender must:
— obtain express permission from his or her parole agent before entering a park;
— not reside within 2,000 feet of a school;
— not enter a child daycare or adult residential care facility without first notifying the staff of his or her registration status; and
— not accept any job working with minors if the victim in the offender’s underlying crime was 16 years old or younger.
County attorneys said the California Supreme Court has agreed to review one of the appellate court decisions, but without knowing which way it may go, it behooved the board to repeal all of the current restrictions, or risk fighting costly lawsuits that the county would more than likely lose.
However, the board determined that with the verdict still out on whether the state’s high court will invalidate the residency restrictions that Riverside and neighboring counties impose on sex registrants, it was worth keeping them on the books.