The City Council of Orange, in a vote of 4 to 0, voted in favor of repealing a city ordinance that required registrants to post a sign on the front door of their residence for 24 hours on Halloween. The vote was taken after a lengthy discussion which included a recommendation by the City Attorney to repeal that requirement.
“California Reform Sex Offender Laws (CA RSOL) thanks the City Council of Orange for upholding the constitution in tonight’s vote,” stated Janice Bellucci, president of CA RSOL. “It is unfortunate, however, that the City Council chose not to act until after a lawsuit was filed.”
An initial letter was sent to the City Council on September 3 requesting repeal of the sign requirement, however, the Council did not consider the issue at its meeting on September 10. A lawsuit challenging the sign requirement was filed in federal district court on September 18.
The City Attorney cited last year’s decision by Federal District Court Judge Percy Anderson to grant a temporary restraining order (TRO) against a similar ordinance adopted by the City of Simi Valley as the basis for his recommendation. He stated the judge’s decision was based upon “sound legal reasoning”. Several members of the City Council also referred to last year’s decision during the Council’s deliberations.
“It’s hard to defend the sign requirement due to the past decision of the judge in the Simi Valley case,” stated City Councilman Fred Whitaker. “It would be a losing battle.”
Mayor Teresa Smith also acknowledged last year’s decision and stated that the risk and cost of fighting the lawsuit was not in the best interests of the taxpayers.
“Without the sign requirement, we will have to do a better job of educating the public,” stated City Councilman Mike Alvarez. “And parents will have to be more diligent in protecting their children.”
When asked, Police Chief Robert Gustafson stated that the remaining three provisions of the Halloween ordinance would be “functionally effective” to protect the children who reside in the city. He added that the city’s police department will enforce the remaining provisions this year through spot checks at registrants’ residences. There are about 100 registrants who reside in the City of Orange.
In addition to repealing the sign requirement, the City Council agreed to send a letter to all registrants in the City notifying them of the repeal as well as the remaining Halloween restrictions: (1) leave all exterior residential, decorative and ornamental lighting off from 5 p.m. to midnight; (2) refrain from decorating his/her residence with Halloween decorations; and (3) refrain from answering the door to children who are trick or treating.