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Orange City Council Repeals Halloween Sign Ordinance

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.

Join the discussion

  1. B

    Congratulations, Janice. This is a great victory. This will give us more confidence in other battles.

  2. Janice Bellucci

    This victory is sweet! No registrant in the City of Orange or the entire State of California will be required to post a sign on the front door of their residence on Halloween. We have stopped the pendulum of punishment!

    • David Kennerly

      Presumably, the compulsion of speech required by posting a sign was just too obvious for even the brain-dead Orange busybodies. But still, no lights, decorations, answering the door? I have to say, this is only a partial “upholding” of The Constitution. And any lawsuit contemplated should continue without delay.

  3. Justice for ALL

    It is a wonderful victory, but I’m not quick to celebrate just yet. FREE, U.S. CITIZENS are still being told that they “refrain from decorating their homes, answer the door, and having their lights off after 5PM!”. Are you EFFING kidding me?!?

    Also, I’ve noticed this trend with nearly ALL ordinances repealed. Their reasoning/rationalization for the repeal is always, “this isn’t in the best interest of the tax payers” or “it would take an absorbent amount of money to defend the law, etc.” But almost never do they acknowledge that it is unconstitutional, oppressive, or PUNISHMENT (dun dun dunnnnn)!

    It’s as if a parent refused to buy their child something they wanted, and the child rationalized it with, “Well I didn’t want that anyways.” Riiiiight.

  4. watching

    not quite because

    (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.

    turning off exterior residential is dangerous if we can’t see the side walk to our door how are we going to know there a rock in the middle of our path

    2 freedom of speech ? were they sleeping in class when the teacher was talking about Freedom of speech in the United States is protected by the First Amendment?

    • Janice Bellucci

      I agree with you that more needs to be done, however, I invited you to stop a moment and enjoy the sweet smell of success. Elected officials, such as the City Council members of Orange, have passed ordinances which violate the civil rights of registrants for a decade or more. We cannot change them all in a single lawsuit. We are running a marathon, not a 50-yard dash. In order to make it across the finish line, more resources are needed in the form of plaintiffs and donations. CA RSOL’s challenge is to collect $10 for every person on the registry. With that amount of money, we can file every lawsuit that is needed. It’s easy to do with the “Donate” button or by mailing a check. It’s time to SHOW UP – STAND UP – SPEAK UP as a plaintiff and/or as a donor.

      • Tired of hiding

        Janice, I think that is a great idea since it is lack of funds that keeps so much of what is clearly unconstitutional law after law from being brought down.

        Is there any way that someone could legally contact the population of RSO to form a sort of union where our collective voice could be heard? If it was organized I am sure that we RSO would participate more and even feel…dare I say it “empowered” and hopeful instead of abused and powerless as so many of us do now.

        I only ask because I can tell you that I personally feel less alone and disconnected knowing that I have this web forum to come to for a least some contact and information exchange with others in my shoes. I am sure I am not alone in this feeling.

        I also fairly confident that the majority of RSO are not members of this forum and probably don’t know of it’s existence. Getting the word out could really really make a difference on so many levels!!

  5. mch

    Janice,

    Thank you and everyone involved for the tireless work you’re doing on behalf of RSO’s. I know at times I feel hopeless and just want to throw in the towel and “let things be.” I’ll come to CARSOL and read of successes and realize I’m not alone, and, in fact, my lot is better than many. It is a marathon and no doubt you’ve hit that brick wall too, but kept on running. I see the struggle as cooperative people on a ladder; the person below pushes the person above, while the person above pulls the one below. Thank you.

  6. mch

    But of course, with all exterior lighting off, it makes it much easier for the vandals and vigilantes to do their evil deeds.

  7. KathieG.

    That’s wonderful, Janice! These sorts of successes have to make lawmakers pause and reflect before they run rampant with RSO restrictions. They will realize that they may have to back down, and that’s not fun…
    I am curious, what about the Simi Valley judge who said the Registrant is subject to the remaining regulations but NOT other residents of the household? Does that apply in Orange as well?

    • http404

      I’d like that to be clarified too. It may be implied that it is complete nonsense that a registrant can be held criminally liable for the actions of others in their household, yet there it is in the lawbooks. So, if a judge clarified that as a decision, or if the city’s General Counsel did with regards to its enforcement policy, it would be good for those folks to know in Orange and Simi Valley, and other places as well.

      While the whole concept of registration is absurd, there should be no doubt among anyone that a major red line was crossed when they went from public disclosure to adding restrictions. How are restrictions not punitive? Beuller? Beuller?

      • http404

        Edit: Janice Bellucci answered this in another thread that the judge did say that. So registrants with family who enjoy the Halloween tradition should just chill at a friend’s house or take in a movie so the family members can be (relatively) unaffected. It kind of sucks, but better us than them in my opinion.

      • KathieG.

        “A registrant may be held criminally liable for the actions of others in their household”
        Is that really law? Do you know where it is listed?

        • http404

          I should point out if you read the ordinance, it says these things must be done at the residence where a registrant lives. In addition to being completely unnecessary according to all data available, it points out how poorly thought out and written these ordinances are.

          So, the ordinance didn’t state that a registrant could be liable if others in a household were not compliant with the provisions, but it was implied by pinning (parts of) the ordinance to the residence itself and judicial clarification (or clarification from the enforcing agencies) was definitely needed.

          I believe the ordinances are available to read online and you will see what I am talking about.

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