When an Orange County law gets struck down by the courts, try, try again with the state Legislature. That's apparently the attitude of two Orange County Assembly members who have proposed a bill that would allow cities to ban sex offenders from public parks.
Pervs-in-parks bans swept California cities after the Orange County Board of Supervisors adopted a law in April 2011 doing just that written by Supervisor Shawn Nelson and District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. But many of those same cities rolled back the municipal ordinances after appellate judges found they were unconstitutional.
Many cities have and, if they still have the laws in their books, continue to find themselves sued by California Reform Sex Offender Laws, which was founded by Santa Maria lawyer Janice Bellucci. Two Orange County cities had their laws struck down following suits that were not filed by Bellucci's nonprofit. The threat of having to dip into municipal funds to defend bans led other OC cities to spike their ordinances.
Speaking of spiking, Bellucci has vowed to try to get the bill by Assemblymen Bill Brough (R-Dana Point) and Matthew Harper (R-Huntington Beach) defeated.
"People's civil rights are being violated extensively, and there's no increase to public safety," Bellucci reportedly told the Orange County Register, citing statistics from the California Sex Offender Management Board that show 93 percent of sex offenders victimize children they know and that only 1.8 percent commit sex offenses after being paroled from prison.
Like the Orange County ordinance that preceded it, the proposed bill would prohibit registered sex offenders from entering public parks, beaches and other public recreational areas unless they have the permission of the local police chief or sheriff.
"At the end of the day, it's about the safety of kids," Brough told the Register's Meghann M. Cuniff. "The locals know what they need, and they're on the front lines and they can make the best decisions on what's best for their community."
But his bill may face a tough road in the Democrat-controlled Legislature. Two Orange County Democrats–hey, remember those?–authored separate bills in 2013-14 aimed at enabling local jurisdictions to restrict where sex offenders can go. Neither bill by former state Sen. Lou Correa of Santa Ana and former Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva of Fullerton gained backing.