June 21, 2014

Pomona takes steps to repeal part of its sex offender ordinance

6-21-2014 California:

POMONA >> Members of the Pomona City Council have taken steps leading to the repeal of part of a 2008 ordinance regulating the presence of sex offenders in the city.

Council members gave preliminary approval at their June 16 meeting to an ordinance repealing a portion of the 2008 local regulation and they are expected to have a final vote July 7.

“This makes the Pomona ordinance consistent with state of California case law,” said Assistant City Attorney Andrew Jared.

In late March, a lawyer for Frank Lindsey, a resident of Grover Beach in San Luis Obispo County, filed a lawsuit in federal court calling for a repeal of Pomona’s ordinance on the grounds it violated state and federal constitutions and made it difficult for registered sex offenders to move into the city.

“We’re pleased the City Council took the first step” leading to the review and repeal of a piece of the 2008 ordinance, said Janice Bellucci, Lindsey’s attorney, and the president of California Reform Sex Offender Laws.

The 2008 ordinance addressed the locations where sex offenders can live and where they can be present in relation to sensitive uses, according to a city staff report.

Listed under sensitive uses are child-care centers, community centers, museums, sport centers, tutoring and learning centers along with rail stations and bus stops.

Other sensitive uses listed are arcades, children’s retail stores, cyber cafes and movie theaters.

Pomona’s ordinance was crafted after another adopted in 2008 by Long Beach and took advantage of the passage of the voter-approved Proposition 83, also referred to as Jessica’s Law.

Proposition 83 contains language that permitted cities to pass ordinances with residency restrictions more stringent than those set by the state.

However, in January, the state Court of Appeals handed down a ruling involving the city of Irvine’s regulations. The courts said regulations involving the presence of sex offenders is within the responsibility of the state, according to a report by Pomona’s city staff.

Bellucci said repealing the part of the ordinance affecting where sex offenders can be present is a positive step.

The portion of the ordinance addressing where sex offenders can reside is still in place and is an issue making its way through the courts, Jared said. Both California Reform Sex Offender Laws and Pomona are monitoring the issue as it is reviewed by the courts.

The organization’s website states that sexual abuse is never acceptable and that policies and laws involving sex offenses should be based on “sound research and common sense, not fear, panic or paranoia.”

The Pomona lawsuit was the first of 11 similar lawsuits filed against cities. The suits came after the organization contacted more than 70 California cities with restrictive ordinances.

In May, Bellucci filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Lindsay against Ontario involving its ordinance regulating the residence and presence of sex offenders.

Ontario City Attorney John Brown said lawyers for the city will “vigorously defend the lawsuit.”

Lawyers representing Ontario have participated “in informal discussions with the plaintiff’s counsel,” Brown said. The purpose of the discussions is “to see what they wish to achieve.”

For the time being, “we anticipate we will be defending (the lawsuit) into the immediate future,” Brown said. ..Source.. by Monica Rodriguez

No comments: