A motion was made at recent Orange City Council meeting to repeal much of its ordinance banning registered sex offenders from city parks, but it died for a lack of a second.
That silence has apparently resulted in a federal lawsuit against the city.
Orange joins Santa Ana as being an Orange County city recently sued in federal court through the advocacy of the lawyers at California Reform Sex Offender Laws (RSOL).
Other California cities or counties that have suffered the same fate are: Pomona, South Lake Tahoe, National City, Carson, Lompoc, Sacramento County, Wasco, Ontario, Stockton and Taft.
"The City of Orange's ordinance is broad and includes restrictions regarding where more than 105,000 individuals can be present," reads a RSOL statement. "Specifically, the ordinance prohibits registered citizens from being present in or within 500 feet of a wide range of locations including the public library, schools, parks, swimming pools, bus stops and playgrounds. The Ordinance also prohibits registered citizens from staying in most hotels or motels within the city limits."
Noting that Orange's ordinance subjects registered sex offenders to a year in jail and/or a fine of $1,000, RSOL President and attorney Janice Bellucci says, "The City Council members of Orange, with the exception of Mayor [Tia] Smith, acted without courage or common sense when they failed to repeal an ordinance which violates both the federal and state constitutions. Those council members are wasting taxpayer dollars by ignoring recent relevant court decisions."
It was Orange City Attorney Wanye Winthers who proposed repealing most of, but not all of, the city's sex-offender ordinance at the last City Council meeting, prompting Smith's motion to approve the changes. Then … crickets.
Winthers is actually following the lead of several other Orange County cities that, facing lawsuits, gutted their own ordinances. Fullerton, Tustin, Santa Ana and Mission Viejo have approved on first reading the repeal of the sections of their ordinances that ban sex offenders from city parks. Anaheim, Costa Mesa, Huntington Beach, Laguna Hills, Lake Forest and Rancho Santa Margarita have already spiked their bans on pervs in parks. Los Alamitos amended its ban to apply only to registrants convicted of sex offenses against children.
"Future legal challenges by sex offenders can be expected of cities that have fail to repeal or revise their sex offender ordinances," vowed Bellucci.
Orange is no stranger to backing off on ordinances targeting sex offenders. The city in September 2013 famously repealed a law that required sex offenders to post their status on signs outside their homes on Halloween.