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City of Lancaster Modifies Registered Sex Offender Ordinance

On March 12, 2013 the Lancaster City Council voted, in a first reading, to modify its current ordinance imposing restrictions and regulations on places that persons required to register under PC 290 may frequent. The modified ordinance includes restrictions only related to Halloween (see below).

California RSOL attended several hearings last fall and spoke against the ordinance, and advised the City Council that the ordinance, as approved at that time, was unconstitutional and was going to be challenged in court.

Source:, select March 12, 2013 and jump to #NB2.

From the Agenda:

The City Attorney’s Office was previously requested by the Criminal Justice Commission to draft an ordinance based upon Jessica’s Law in order to restrict and regulate the places that a registered sex offender may reside and frequent.  That ordinance was adopted by the City Council on September 11, 2012, as Ordinance No. 981, which added Chapter 9.44 to the Lancaster Municipal Code (entitled “Regulation of Registered Sex Offenders”) and imposed restrictions and regulations upon registered sex offenders in addition to those imposed under state law.  While Ordinance No. 981 was intended to supplement, not to conflict with, existing state law by imposing more stringent restrictions on the locations where registered sex offenders may reside and by imposing restrictions on the locations that registered sex offenders may frequent, issues were recently raised concerning the constitutionality of certain aspects of Ordinance No. 981.  To address such issues, and to avoid the cost of potential litigation, the Ordinance repeals and replaces the current version of Chapter 9.44 of the Lancaster Municipal Code (which was added by Ordinance No. 981). 

The new version of Chapter 9.44 as set forth in the Ordinance is limited to activity related to Halloween.  Specifically, it provides that “[o]n October 31st of each year, as well as on any day designated by the city for any Halloween trick or treating event, a registered sex offender, shall: (i) leave all exterior residential, decorative and ornamental lighting off during the hours of 5:00 p.m. to 11:59 p.m.; and (ii) not decorate his or her permanent residence with Halloween decorations, and remove any such decorations; and (iii) not answer the door to children who are trick-or-treating.”

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The vote of the Lancaster City Council on March 12 was a significant step toward repealing most of the city’s sex offender ordinance, including all presence and residency restrictions. Although the City Council may not be willing to concede that the ordinance violates the state and federal constitutions, they are to be commended for righting a significant wrong. The final step necessary in this process is a City Council vote on March 26. May they do the right thing on that day.

Exactly …freedom is indivisible …freedom doesn’t come from the generosity of the state but from the hand of GOD…
Thanks for the inspiration President Kennedy & the work of
Janice BELLUCCI CA RSOL….its a HomeRun ..!!

First of all, CONGRATULATIONS! The lawsuit definitely made this barking dog know who the bigger hound in the fight was. Rant and snarl all the want, but when the Big Dog growls with a federal lawsuit, the chihuahua’s just whimper and meek away.

However, part of me is disappointed in a way. I really wanted to see Janice take them down in a court of law that would have set a precedent to disallow other muni’s from doing this in the FIRST place. Now any other city that decides to pull a Lancaster out of their hat will not have a court decision preventing them from doing so.

But at least the line in the sand has finally been drawn. Once we really have our backs, then we can start on the registry itself.

Patience, grasshopper, patience ….

Don’t get me wrong… I’m ecstatic over this news! And of course federal court fee commitments require loans or savings depletion in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, so getting favorable results are a huge win.

I think that part of the resentment is the fact that the states have pretty much run roughshod for the past decade and Janice is finally providing the first major return of volley, all of which have scorched the state. To that end, I have no doubt who would come on top, and I’m sure the mayors and councilmembers of the various cities have been read the riot act by their lawyers or their civil insurance providers.

So the result is relative little cost compared to a full trial to get the results needed. If this is enough to halt other cities from proceeding, then great. However, I’ve seen some cities push the envelope because they aren’t losing a dime unless the are sued, and unless there is a precedent, then this process will have to continue until one city actually says, bring it on!

It’s truly a long game, one that will most probably be going the next 25-30 years, or even longer. Without Janice’ federal court intervention, though, the laws may have a good chance of being cemented into place. Patience is one thing, but grasshoppers are also known for quick movements and cunning in which patience is not necessarily its best virtue.

Janice mentioned that residency restrictions were lifted too in Lancaster. Does this mean that an RSO can now live anywhere he wants to in Lancaster?

You people who are pushing for Janice to file law suits should realize how expensive it is in time and money to do so.

The City of Lancaster lifted its own residency restrictions which were in addition to state residency restrictions. After that city completes revisions to its ordinance on March 26, only state residency restrictions will remain.

I know all too well how expensive everything can be. Part of the strategy is to file federally to reduce the appeal trail the state can make when they lose, and actually speed up the process to which the registry can finally be challenged again.

Consider the fact that lately, judges have been good in requiring states to reimburse legal fees for litigants, so it not an entirely unfunded process if processed and litigated correctly. Cities and governments are finally realizing this, and hopefully Lancaster’s and Simi Valley’s actions will provide the impetus for cities (or their insurance providers) to read the constitution for any potential violations that could cost them a hell of a lot of money.

Even so, what Janice and Jeff are doing are creating the blueprint for legal firms across the country to utilize in their own challenges, which collectively will help put an end to, perhaps the greatest oppression of the tyranny of the majority since pre-civil rights.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x