The Riverside County Board of Supervisors has adopted a new ordinance that repeals the loitering provisions previously set forth. Under the new ordinance, 902.2, residency prohibitions remain in place. The move came about following Appeals Court rulings on similar ordinances in nearby areas as unconstitutional.
County attorney Greg Priamos addressed the group in attendance regarding statements previously made by the public, noting that there had been a number of speakers on the issue who weren’t necessarily accurate in their understanding of the issue.
“We need to be very clear to the public as to what the ordinances are intended to do and what they have done,” Priamos said.
Tiffany North, deputy county attorney addressed the history of the ordinance directly, adding that ordinance 901, the original sex offender ordinance adopted in urgency in July of 2010. North explained that ordinance 902, also addressing sex offender restrictions, was introduced around the same time to be adopted under normal adoption procedures.
North went on to explain that when both ordinances were put before the board; they included a sex offender registry restriction that no sex offender live within 2000 feet of a park or school.
“At the time that 901 was adopted it was determined that the 2,000 foot residency restriction from a park or school was duplicative in ordinance 902 because it was always covered in state law under the penal code,” she said. “So in 2010 the board reintroduced and adopted 902 with revisions that strengthened the residency restrictions and loitering requirements even though it removed the 2,000 foot residency restrictions for parks and schools since it was already covered under state law.”
North said that once 902 was adopted, Ordinance 901 was automatically repealed.
Judy Waltz, a Riverside County resident, told the supervisors that she believed that they had violated the laws by enacting Ordinance 901 in 2010. She went on to accuse the board of doing whatever they wanted without regard to the desires of the people or to the law. She added that the only reason the changes were being made was to cover past mistakes.
“Furthermore you violated all of the people. The people voted Jessica’s law in and you violated that too,” she said. “I guess the people spoke about the law and you people, you do whatever you want to do. The people of the state of California have no right to speak out to vote laws in then they get all chopped up then you slide in our shirttails and something needs to be done about it. I think it is totally disgusting.”
Jessica’s law, named after a 9-year-old Florida girl who was murdered by a convicted sex offender who failed to notify local police of his location, was approved by California voters in 2006.
Under the California penal code section 290, or Jessica’s law, sex offenders who have been convicted of a felony sex offense are required to be monitored by GPS devices.
The penal code also prohibits sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of any school and includes provisions that increase legal penalties for habitual sex offenders and child molesters. Riverside residents would still be protected under the state’s law.
Priamos said it’s important to note that cities and counties are preempted by state law except where they are permitted to vary by direct permission from the state.
“In the current instance, the California Supreme court has spoken as to the loitering restrictions and declared them unconstitutional,” he said. “Every action that this board has taken has been in response to actions taken by the Supreme Court to ensure that this board can continue to comply with state law.”
Priamos went on to say that residency restrictions are now before the Supreme Court and the board will take action based on the decision of the Supreme Court.
“I think it’s important to note that this board’s actions have always been consistent with state law.”
Ordinance 902.2 was adopted unanimously by all supervisors in attendance. To read the full restrictions and affected visit www.rivcocob.org.