UPDATE, JULY 29, 9:41 A.M.: The Rancho Santa Margarita City Council voted Wednesday night to move ahead with a ban on registered sex offenders in city parks that is similar to the county law enacted in April.
The council agreed that banning only those who have preyed on children would leave kids vulnerable to all the other sex offenders. But the law that will come back to the council at a later date will include provisions different from the county's broad ban in regional parks and other recreational areas.
Rancho Santa Margarita's ban would allow sex offenders to
apply for waivers that would allow them to enter city parks to attend religious services, accompany their children to parks, vote in elections where their local polls are in parks and attend events as allowed under the freedom of assembly.
City staff claimed allowing waivers would better protect RSM from legal challenges.
UPDATE, JULY 27, 7:14 A.M.: Tonight, the Ban-Pervs-in-Parks Wheel
stops yet again in Rancho Santa Margarita, where the staff has
recommended still more time to implement a law similar to the county's
enacted in April.
According to the agenda for tonight's regular
meeting, the council will be asked to accept the staff report and then
chose one of two options.
The stricter option would be to go the way of the county plan drafted by Supervisor Shawn Nelson and District Attorney Tony Rackauckas to totally ban register sex offenders from city parks unless the creepers have the permission of local law enforcement.
The more lenient choice would be to go the way of Irvine, which rejected the full Nelson/T-Rack and instead opted to only ban sex offenders whose crimes involved children. That is who these measures are intended to protect, after all.
City staff in RSM, which has already kicked the idea of a law around twice before now, would have the council follow up its Sophie's Choice with more direction for staff before allowing the employees to gather more “outreach” from the real people who run the bedroom community:
Homeowners association presidents!
Tonight's meeting begins at 7 in the council chambers at 22112 El Paseo, Rancho Santa Margarita.
UPDATE, JUNE 22, 10:09 A.M.: While expressing some concern the
county pervs-in-parks ban is too broad, the San Juan Capistrano City
Council did decide Tuesday night to bring a local ordinance back for a
vote July 5.
Among the options the city with huge swaths of open
space will explore are applying bans only to parks frequented by
children or to registered sex offenders convicted of having preyed on
UPDATE, JUNE 21, 5:15 P.M.: The San Juan Capistrano City Council
tonight becomes the next local Orange County panel to consider extending
the county ban on registered sex offenders to city parks.
Susan Kang Schroeder, chief of staff at the Orange
County District Attorney's office (OCDA), is scheduled to press the
case in favor of a pervs-out-of-parks ordinance after tonight's meeting
is called to order at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 32400 Paseo Adelanto, San Juan Capistrano.
approved a watered-down version of the law the Orange County Board of
Supervisors adopted in April that slaps misdemeanors on registered sex
offenders who do not seek permission from the sheriff's department
before entering a county park or other recreational area where children
gather. The county ordinance was drafted by District Attorney Tony Rackauckas and Supervisor Shawn Nelson.
Irvine ultimately approved a law that targets only sex offenders who have victimized children.
UPDATE, JUNE 14, 8:16 A.M.: When
the idea of banning registered sex offenders from city parks was
brought before the Irvine City Council last month, the panel agreed to
have staff bring back a draft proposal–with reservations.
Joined-at-the-hip council members Larry Agran and Beth Krom
worried about creating a false sense of security and preoccupying
police officers in what's been repeatedly been deemed America's safest
So with the issue back on tonight's council agenda, District Attorney Tony Rackauckas is pulling out all the stops. Hellbent on getting Orange County cities in line with the county law he co-wrote with Supervisor Shawn Nelson, T-Rack's scheduled to appear in the Irvine council chambers with his chief of staff Susan Kang Schroeder and various victims' rights advocates.
A media advisory from the DA's office says Erin Runnion
of the Joyful Child Foundation and representatives from Divine Choices
and Community Service Programs, Inc. will be part of the DA's
contingent. It's as if T-Rack is saying, “Try telling the mother of
slain little Samantha Runnion you don't need this law in Irvine, Agran.”
full-court press is being extended to the public, which he's also asked
to join him at the Irvine meeting. His advisory also lists the
council's contact information for direct communication:
Irvine City Council: (949) 724-6000
Sukhee Kang, Mayor: email@example.com
Beth Krom, Mayor Pro Tem: firstname.lastname@example.org
Larry Argan, Councilmember: email@example.com
Dr. Steven Choi, Councilmember: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeffrey Lalloway, Councilmember : email@example.com
The meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the chambers at 1 Civic
Center Plaza in Irvine. The “Child Safety Zones in Parks” item is No. 6
on the agenda.
UPDATE, JUNE 9, 11:46 A.M.: District
Attorney Tony Rackauckas last night scored a two-fer in his quest to
get all Orange County cities to extend the county ban on sex offenders
in parks to city-owned recreational areas. The Rancho Santa Margarita
City Council voted unanimously to draft an ordinance patterned after the
county's created by T-Rack and Supervisor Shawn Nelson and enacted in
April. Meanwhile, the Westminster City Council gave final approval to
its own ban set to take effect July 8. Nellie, T-Rack and Erin Runnion
have all hailed Westminster's law as the one closest to the county's.
UPDATE, JUNE 8, 8:15 A.M.: A
spin of the Wheel of Victimization has stopped on Rancho Santa
Margarita, whose city council tonight considers joining the county and
other OC cities that have made parks and other public places where
children gather off limits to registered sex offenders.
Councilman Steven Baric
proposed the discussion of an ordinance extending the ban the county
enacted in April to city parks. Senior Deputy District Attorney Brian Fitzpatrick
will make the pitch for the Orange County District Attorney's Office,
whose bossman, Tony Rackauckas drafted the county ordinance with
Supervisor Shawn Nelson.
The county version makes it a
misdemeanor for registered sex offenders to enter county recreational
areas where children regularly gather without first receiving permission
from Orange County sheriff's deputies.
The council meeting begins at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 22112 El Paseo, Rancho Santa Margarita.
UPDATE, MAY 27, 3:40 P.M.: An
Orange County supervisor, the district attorney and perhaps the most
famous mother of a local crime victim today applauded Westminster
officially enacting a ban on registered sex offenders from city parks.
from Supervisor Shawn Nelson and District Attorney Tony Rackauckas are
no surprise since they drafted the similar ordinance enacted by the
county in April. They have been lobbying cities to follow suit ever
since. But also lending her approval to Westminster's move Thursday
night was Erin Runnion, the mother of 5-year-old
Samantha Runnion, who was abducted from her Stanton home, sexually assaulted and murdered in 2002.
While Alejandro Avila
was being tried for Samantha's murder–he was convicted of special
circumstances murder and
sentenced to the death penalty in 2005–her mother formed the Joyful
Child Foundation, a nonprofit that advocates for child safety and
“It is so important that we rally to insist that the rights of our
children come before those of convicted predators,” Runnion said in a
statement cheering the Westminster vote and distributed by the Orange
County District Attorney's office (OCDA). “These are our parks and our
children deserve to be safe while they play.”
She went on to laud the Westminster Unified School
District for piloting the Not One More Child Safety Education
Initiative and Rackauckas and municipal leaders “who put children first.”
The ordinance, which is the first formally enacted that mirrors the county version, was supported by Mayor Margie Rice and council members Andrew Quach, Tri Ta and the councilman who introduced it, Tyler Diep. Councilman Frank Fry abstained.
“I hope parents of Westminster join me in commending Westminster Mayor
Rice, Mayor Pro Tem Diep, and City Council Members Quach and Ta for
taking a big step in creating a safety zone for our children and keeping
sex offenders out of Westminster parks,” Rackauckas says in the same OCDA statement. His senior assistant DA, Mary Anne McCauley, had attended the meeting to press for passage of the ordinance.
“I hope other cities join Westminster and take a stand to protect
children from dangerous sex offenders,” added Nelson. “A gap
in the law was identified and now Westminster police has the authority
they need to remove registered sex offenders from children's play
The law makes it a misdemeanor for anyone registered as a sex offender to enter any city of Westminster
park where children regularly gather–unless they have written permission from
the Westminster Police Department. Violators may be punished with up to
six months in jail and/or a $500 fine.
Civil libertarians warn such ordinances may be unconstitutional, while
parents who must register as sex offenders for relatively minor crimes
from years ago–such as urinating in public–have called the laws
UPDATE, MAY 24, 3:36 P.M.: The Westminster City Council on
Thursday will consider a local ordinance modeled after the existing
county version that bans registered sex offenders from parks and
recreational facilities unless they have permission from the police.
makes Westminster just the latest Orange County city to consider such a
law, but Councilman Tyler Diep says his town has something the others
don't: a whole lot more registered sex offenders calling Westminster
Diep tells the Orange County Register
a city staff report shows there are 137 sex offenders registered with
the Westminster Police Department. And more are likely on the way as the
state is under a court order to reduce the prison population.
those playing the home version, Westminster joins Irvine and Huntington
Beach in considering bans. Tustin, Orange and Fullerton already have
ordinances similar to the county's in place.
UPDATE, MAY 17, 8:37 A.M.: The Huntington Beach City Council
voted unanimously Monday night to have its staff draft a local ordinance
modeled after the existing county version that bans registered sex
offenders from parks and recreational facilities where children gather.
some council members wondered if the law will be enforceable given the
city's vast central park and long city beach strand. And one questioned
whether such a law would be constitutional.
Councilwoman Connie Boardman
reportedly brought up the constitutional question while also noting she
has received emails from parents who had offenses years ago, are now
raising children and would be prohibited from taking their kids to city
She suggested a law similar to Tustin's, which does not
offenders but prohibits them from loitering in recreational areas. And
her notion of considering the broad spectrum of offenses that
can earn people sex-offender tags resonated with two other council
members. For instance, someone arrested for urinating in public or who
as teen over 18 had a girlfriend under 18 could have been branded sex
offenders. Should they pay the same price as a habitual child rapist?
Amazingly, taking the actual offenses into account was also advocated by Surf City Police Chief Kenneth Small, who asked the council to include in the final draft in the ordinance some discretion on how his officers will enforce it.
A new law written by City Attorney Jennifer McGrath will come back before the council at a later date.
UPDATE, MAY 16, 8:17 A.M.: The county adopted its sex
offender ban in regional parks and recreational facilities where
children gather last month. The Irvine City Council considered creating
its own last week. Tonight, the Huntington Beach City Council gets in on
At the request of Mayor Joe Carchio and Councilman Matthew Harper,
council is scheduled to discuss enacting a city ordinance similar to the
county ordinance first proposed by Supervisor Shawn Nelson and Orange
Attorney Tony Rackauckas.
Someone representing Rackauckas is
expected to attend the council meeting, which begins at 6:30 p.m. at
Huntington Beach City Hall, 2000 Main St., Huntington Beach.
UPDATE, MAY 11, 9:54 A.M.: The proposal to ban sex offenders from Irvine city parks did not wow all council members Tuesday night. Mayor Sukhee Kang, Councilman Steven Choi and the councilman who brought the matter before the panel, Jeff Lalloway,
indicated support for a local version of the new county law that bans
registered offenders from county parks and recreational facilities. The
council ultimately directed city staff to bring a recommendation back
before it within 45 days.
Two council members had expressed reservations, though.
As reported by Jeff Overley in the Orange County Register, Larry Agran
noted Irvine is America's safest city, so by default it would already
have America's safest parks. He feared the ban might occupy city cops
who have proven they have a winning enforcement formula already. As part
of the staff recommendation, Agran urged that a determination be made
to whether pervs in Irvine parks is even a problem. Councilwoman Beth Krom, meanwhile, reportedly wondered whether the law would create a false sense of safety in parks.
echoing the sentiments of Orange County District Attorney Tony
Rackauckas, who appeared before the council to lobby for the law
mirrored after the county version he whipped up with Supervisor Shawn
Nelson, Lalloway said the county ban could drive sex offenders into city
parks that aren't covered by similar ordinances.
prospect has already spooked cities like Tustin and Fullerton to adopt
park bans and Westminster and Huntington Beach to consider them.
Others who addressed the Irvine council were county Sheriff Sandra Hutchens, who reportedly said she did not want to tell the city leaders what to do but that such bans make her job easier, and Todd Spitzer,
whose former county supervisorial district included Irvine. Spitzer,
who helped put Megan's Law online as a state assemblyman before becoming
the heir apparent to Rackauckas (who ultimately fired the Spitz),
hailed the ban as a way to protect children.
As any good candidate for office knows–Spitzer is running for supervisor again–it's all about the children.
UPDATE, MAY 10, 8:10 A.M.: Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas is scheduled to drop into the Irvine City Council meeting tonight.
No, he will not be there to hand out an indictment to a certain electioneering Boss Hogg–at least not this time.
The man the kids call T-Rack will be there to urge support of Councilman Jeff Lalloway's proposal to extend a ban on sex offenders in county parks and recreational facilities to Irvine city parks.
April 5, the Orange County Board of Supervisors passed the county
ordinance proposed by Rackauckas and Supervisor Shawn Nelson making it a misdemeanor for registered sex offenders to enter county recreational
areas where children regularly gather without permission first from law enforcement (to, say, attend a wedding).
Irvine City Council will review the county ordinance as part of the
on the proposed city ordinance at the meeting that begins at 5 p.m. at
Irvine City Hall. A vote to enact a city ordinance would not happen
until a later council meeting.
“Irvine's record of safety is a source of great pride to the residents
of this city and to me,” Lalloway says in a statement distributed by the DA's office.
“As a father of two young children and an Irvine official, I am always
looking for new ways to better protect our children and families and
keep Irvine America's Safest City.”
For several years running,
Irvine has been named the country's safest city due to its low crime
rate and relatively large population.
Besides Rackauckas, Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens is scheduled to attend the
council meeting and add her support to Lalloway's proposed ordinance.
UPDATE, APRIL 5, 4:43 P.M.: The Orange County Board of Supervisors today unanimously approved a new
law to create “child safety zones” that registered sex offenders can
only enter legally if they have permission from law enforcement.
Basically, the brainchild of District Attorney Tony
Rackauckas and Supervisor Shawn Nelson makes it a misdemeanor for convicted perverts, molesters and assorted creepers to hang out at in county parks and recreational
areas where children regularly gather–unless the Sheriff's Department gives them the all-clear first.
“Orange County has taken a huge step in creating a safety
zone for our children,” Rackauckas. says in a statement issued by his office. “Parks,
harbors, and beaches belong to families and children, not registered sex
Nelson is quoted in the same release praising his board for taking “a stand for children.”
“A gap in the law
was identified,” Nelson states, “and now law enforcement has the authority they need to
remove registered sex offenders from children's play areas.”
Violators of the new law face up to six months in jail and/or a $500
fine. The zones are indentified in the complete ordinance below:
ORDINANCE NO. 03-18-1 to 6
AN ORDINANCE OF THE COUNTY OF ORANGE, CALIFORNIA, ADDING DIVISION 18, ARTICLE 1 TO TITLE 3 OF THE CODIFIED ORDINANCES OF THE COUNTY OF ORANGE PROHIBITING REGISTERED SEX OFFENDERS FROM ENTERING COUNTY PARKS
The Board of Supervisors of the County of Orange, California ordains as follows:
SECTION 1. Division 18, Article 1 is hereby added to Title 3 of
the Codified Ordinances of the County of Orange, to read as follows:
ARTICLE 1. PROHIBITION OF REGISTERED SEX OFFENDERS FROM ENTERING COUNTY PARKS
Sec. 3-18-1. Purpose and intent.
It is the purpose and intent of this ordinance to protect children from
registered sex offenders by restricting sex offenders' access to
locations where children regularly gather. It is intended to reduce the
risk of harm to children by impacting the ability of sex offenders to
be in contact with children. It is further the intent of this ordinance
to provide additional restrictions beyond those provided for in state
law by restricting sex offenders from certain limited locations, and by
allowing for criminal penalties for violations of this ordinance. It is
not the intent of this ordinance to allow conduct otherwise prohibited
by state law, or to contradict state law. Orange County Parks are
recognized by the County of Orange Board of Supervisors as locations
where children regularly gather.
Sec. 3-18-2. Definitions.
Orange County Park. For purposes of this ordinance, an Orange County
Park is defined as any county-owned, leased, operated or maintained land
before or after the effective date of this ordinance by the County of
Orange held as a harbor, beach, park or recreation area, including but
not limited to, Arroyo Trabuco Park, Carbon Canyon Regional Park, Clark
Regional Park, Craig Regional Park, Featherly Regional Park, Irvine
Regional Park, Laguna Niguel Regional Park, Mason Regional Park, Mile
Square Regional Park, O'Neill Regional Park, Orange County Zoo, Peters
Canyon Regional Park, Santiago Regional Park, Harriett M. Wieder
Regional Park, Yorba Park, Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park,
Caspers Wilderness Park, Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, Thomas F. Riley
Wilderness Park, Talbert Nature Preserve, Aliso Beach Park, Capistrano
Beach Park, Newport Harbor, Salt Creek Beach Park, Sunset Beach Park,
Dana Point Harbor, and Sunset Harbour.
Sec. Sec. 3-18-3. Prohibitions.
Any person required to register pursuant to California Penal Code
sections 290, et seq. who enters into or upon any Orange County Park
where children regularly gather without written permission from the
Orange County Sheriff or Sheriff's designee is guilty of a misdemeanor.
Each entry into any such area, regardless of the time period between
entries, shall constitute a separate offense under this ordinance.
Sec. 3-18-4. Penalties for violation.
Punishment for a violation of this section shall be as follows:
(1) Upon a first conviction, by imprisonment in a county jail
for a period of not more than six months, or by a fine not exceeding
five hundred dollars ($500), or by both imprisonment and a fine.
(2) Upon a second conviction, by imprisonment in a county jail
for a period of not less than ten (10) days and not more than six
months, or by both imprisonment and a fine not exceeding five hundred
dollars ($500). Upon a second conviction, however, the person shall not
be released on probation, parole, or any other basis until he or she
has served not less than ten (10) days.
(3) Upon a third or subsequent conviction, by imprisonment in a
county jail for a period of not less than ninety (90) days and not more
than six months, or by both imprisonment and a fine not exceeding five
hundred dollars ($500). Upon a third or subsequent conviction, however,
the person shall not be released on probation, parole, or any other
basis until he or she has served not less than ninety (90) days.
Sec. 3-18-5. Other prosecution authorized.
Nothing in this ordinance shall preclude or prohibit prosecution under any other provision of law.
Sec. 3-18-6. Severability.
If any section, paragraph, sentence, clause, phrase or portion of this
ordinance is held invalid or unconstitutional by any court of competent
jurisdiction, such portion shall be deemed severable and such holding
shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions hereof. The
Board of Supervisors hereby declares that it would have adopted this
ordinance irrespective of the invalidity of any particular portion
thereof and intends that the invalid portions should be severed and the
balance of the ordinance be enforced.
UPDATE, MARCH 22, 3:22 P.M.: The Orange County
Board of Supervisors this morning approved the first reading of an
ordinance aimed at keeping sex offenders out of county
parks and recreation areas.
The board asked District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, who proposed the new law along with Supervisor Shawn
Nelson, to tweak the ordinance so sex offenders can apply for waivers if
they, say, attend a wedding at a county facility.
It is scheduled to return for a final board vote next month. It would go into effect 30 days after final approval.
But a representative from the Oklahoma-based Sex Offenders Network told the
board the proposed ordinance violates the U.S. Constitution and will be
overturned if it is ever taken to court, reports Patch.com's Nisha Gutierrez-Jaime.
ORIGINAL POST, MARCH 22, 7:01 A.M.: This morning, the Orange County Board of
Supervisors considers a proposed ordinance aimed at keeping sex
offenders out of county
parks and recreation areas.
Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas on
March 14 announced that he and county Supervisor Shawn Nelson had
drafted the proposed ordinance that “creates a safety zone” to protect
children from registered sex offenders.
Under the proposal,
registered sex offenders caught in designated county recreational areas
where children regularly gather would be subject to misdemeanor charges.
Violators could be punished with up to six months in jail and/or a $500
“I applaud Supervisor Nelson
for taking this step to help protect the children of Orange County,”
Rackauckas said in announcing the proposal. “Registered sex offenders
not have the right to go into parks and places where children gather.
Parks do not belong to sexual deviants. Parks belong to children who
want to play there and parents who want to enjoy nature with their
“Parents and children should expect that
county parks are free from sexual predators,” Nelson says in the same statement. “This ordinance gives our
law-enforcement personnel the tools they need to keep our parks free
from threats. I've worked closely with our district attorney to craft this ordinance designed to ensure the safety
of our children.”
The law would apply to nearly 60,000
acres of parkland and open space, including regional and wilderness parks,
nature preserves, recreational trails, historic sites, harbors, and
beaches where children regularly gather. These include: Arroyo Trabuco Park, Carbon Canyon Regional Park, Clark Regional Park,
Craig Regional Park, Featherly Regional Park, Irvine Regional Park,
Laguna Niguel Regional Park, Mason Regional Park, Mile Square Regional
Park, O'Neill Regional Park, Orange County Zoo, Peters Canyon Regional
Park, Santiago Regional Park, Harriett M. Wieder Regional Park, Yorba
Park, Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, Caspers Wilderness Park,
Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, Thomas F. Riley Wilderness Park, Talbert
Nature Preserve, Aliso Beach Park, Capistrano Beach Park, Newport
Harbor, Salt Creek Beach Park, Sunset Beach Park, Dana Point Harbor, and
The board meeting begins at 9 a.m. at the Orange
County Hall of Administration, 10 Civic Center Plaza, Santa Ana. If the
board approves the ordinance on first reading, it will come back for a
final vote on April 4.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.