The CA RSOL is a group of folks that likes to believe registered sex offenders are victims of civil rights discrimination, and therefore a special class of individuals that needs to be liberated from the tyranny of having to live with the full consequences of their horrific crimes. We covered this topic in depth on December 7th in an article we called "A Couple Of Things City Attorney Teresa Highsmith Forgot To Tell You About The Demise Of Sierra Madre's Sex Offender Ordinance." You can link to it by clicking here.
Many other cities have surrendered their sex offender ordinances in Court as well, and Sierra Madre is hardly alone in this regard. Apparently when each of these localities weighed the potential legal costs of defending their ordinances, as opposed to what such legislation was designed to protect children from, these cities went with the money every time. I guess they figured they had more important things to spend it on. Like SCAG and SGVCOG dues. Or, in our case, $37,000 a year municipal employee health care plans.
Sierra Madre's City Attorney, Teresa Highsmith, writing for a wonky League of California Cities publication called Western City, actually does advise other cities to follow the same path she enabled behind the scenes here. Which is speedy surrender, done without a fight. The article is called "The Better Part of Valor: Amending Local Sex Offender Ordinances," and you can access it here.
This is what Teresa recommends:
A series of lawsuits against California cities has brought the issue of sex offenders in the community back to many city agendas and local public meetings. Two recent decisions by the California Court of Appeal and a case pending before the California Supreme Court effectively limit cities’ ability to enforce local ordinances regulating registered sex offenders who live in their jurisdictions. Few city officials or residents favor the idea of repealing an ordinance intended to protect children from predators, but many cities with such ordinances are being forced to do just that as a result of legal challenges. By moving quickly and carefully, city councils can address the appellate rulings and avoid paying for the privilege of repealing their ordinances.
Like Sierra Madre, this has pretty much been the practice of nearly every city in California that had a Sex Offender Ordinance. Rather than fight to preserve something they had once believed in enough to enact, each of them bailed out tout suite when challenged in court by the CA RSOL organization.
There is a notable exception however, and that is the City of Carson. The following article, originally published last September, is from a newspaper called The Daily Breeze. It can be linked to here.
Carson vows to ‘go to war’ to keep sex offender restrictions - Carson’s political leaders are prepared to throw the city’s weight — and its bank account — behind a legal and legislative battle to maintain control over where sex offenders are allowed to visit and live in the city.
Council members voted 5-0 on Tuesday night to direct staff to push for state legislation that would protect the city’s ability to ban sex offenders from visiting day-care centers, libraries and other areas where children gather, and to restrict where sex offenders may live in relation to areas visited by kids.
The California Supreme Court this year let stand a lower court ruling invalidating local laws aimed at restricting the movement of sex offenders, saying the state has authority on this issue. As a result, roughly 75 municipalities that adopted local restrictions have since been removing them from their codes to avoid lawsuits.
But not in Carson. “We have to go to war,” Councilwoman Lula Davis-Holmes said. “And, when we step out, we want (other cities) to join us in this fight because this is going to be a big fight. We want to keep this at the forefront.”
Carson wants to maintain its provisions that registered sex offenders must remain 300 feet away from identified “child-safety zones,” such as day-care centers, libraries, swimming pools and commercial establishments that have a children’s playground or school bus stop. State law only prevents them from loitering at parks and schools.
The city also doesn’t allow sex offenders to live together in a hotel or motel room, or to live within 2,000 feet of a school or park, or within 300 feet of a child-care center. Jessica’s Law requires that they live at least 2,000 feet from schools and parks.
There is another Southern California jurisdiction that has resisted the CA RSOL's efforts to make child molesting politically correct, and that is San Bernardino County. In an article called "Pair seeks repeal of sex-offender laws in California," the San Bernardino Sun shared this information (link):
San Bernardino County ... has no intention of repealing or amending its ordinance, which not only imposes strict residency and presence restrictions for sex offenders, but also prohibits them from having their porch lights on between 5 p.m. and midnight on Halloween night, passing out candy to children or decorating their homes.
“I’m going to stand strong for the children. I think their rights are far more worth salvaging than those of individuals who abuse them and ruin their lives,” said San Bernardino County Supervisor Gary Ovitt, who played a pivotal role in the shaping and evolving of the county’s sex-offender ordinance over the years.
You have to wonder what it must be like to live in a place with the kinds of strong political leadership needed to stand up and fight for something this important. You know, a city that would make the protection of its children as high a priority as, let's say, raising utility taxes or water rates?
I guess we'll never really know.