A sex offender ordinance adopted by the City of Pomona is the subject of a lawsuit filed today in federal district court on behalf of a sex offender (“registered citizen”). The ordinance includes restrictions regarding where more than 105,000 individuals can reside or be present.
Specifically, the ordinance prohibits registered citizens from residing or being present within 300 feet of a wide range of public and private locations including schools, parks, bus stops, railroad station, arcades, health clubs, movie theaters, cyber cafes and museums. A registered citizen who violates the ordinance is subject to incarceration for a period of up to one year and/or a fine of up to $1,000 for each day of violation.
“The sex offender ordinance adopted by the City of Pomona violates both the federal and state constitutions,” stated CA RSOL President and attorney Janice Bellucci. “The Pomona ordinance is based upon two myths: (1) that registered citizens have a high rate of re-offense and (2) that strangers commit most sexual assaults. The true rates of re-offense*, according to state and federal government reports, are 1.8 percent for registrants on parole and 5.3 percent for registrants overall. More than 90 percent of sexual assaults upon children are committed not by strangers but by family members and others known by the children** such as teachers, coaches, and clergy.”
“The presence restrictions within the Pomona ordinance are inconsistent with recent decisions of the California Court of Appeal which invalidated two ordinances – one in the City of Irvine and the other in Orange County – as being preempted by state law,” stated CA RSOL board member and attorney Chance Oberstein. “The court held that the state statutory scheme imposing restrictions on a sex offender’s daily life fully occupied the field.”***
California RSOL sent a letter to Pomona and more than 70 additional cities within California on January 20 notifying them of the recent Court of Appeal decisions and that the sex offender ordinances the cities had adopted were inconsistent with those decisions. California RSOL requested in those letters that the cities repeal their ordinances within 60 days or face a legal challenge.
Subsequent to issuance of the California RSOL letter, the cities of Costa Mesa and El Centro repealed their sex offender ordinances. Several additional cities, including Anaheim, Grand Terrace, and South Pasadena have agreed in writing not enforce their sex offender ordinances pending a decision from the California Supreme Court whether to grant review of the California Court of Appeal decisions.
“Future legal challenges by sex offenders can be expected of cities that have failed to either repeal their sex offender ordinances or agree in writing to stay enforcement of those ordinances,” stated Bellucci. “The lawsuit filed against Pomona today is the first in a series of such legal challenges.”
*See 2013 Outcome Evaluation Report, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation dated January 2014 at page 26 and Recidivism of Sex Offenders Released from Prison in 1994, U.S. Department of Justice dated November 2003 at page 24.
** See Homelessness Among California’s Registered Sex Offenders, California Sex Offender Management Board dated September 2011 at page 10.
*** See People v. Nguyen, 222 Cal. App. 4th 1168 (Cal. App. 4th Dist. 2014) and People v. Godinez, Case No. G047657, Cal. Court of Appeals, January 10, 2014 (unpublished)].