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A sex offender ordinance adopted by National City, a city in San Diego County, is the subject of a lawsuit filed on April 4 in federal district court on behalf of a registered sex offender (“registered citizen”). This is the third lawsuit challenging a city’s presence restrictions. The first lawsuit was filed on March 24 against the City of Pomona and the second lawsuit on March 31 against the City of South Lake Tahoe.

The National City 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 locations including schools, parks, playgrounds, arcades and amusement centers. 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 National City violates both the federal and state constitutions,” stated CA RSOL President and attorney Janice Bellucci.

The National City 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 National City 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 National City 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 registered 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.

Join the discussion

  1. G4Change

    Once again, thank you, Janice and all who are involved!

  2. Tim

    I’ve passed through this city several times. Didn’t know that if I stopped at a park to go to the bathroom, I could be arrested. Thank you for challenging their indecent law.

    • cool rso guy

      well now you do and maybe you can make some money out of this…

  3. Janice Bellucci

    Many thanks to Frank Lindsay who agreed to serve as plaintiff in these cases! Frank showed up, stood up and spoke up in a very public manner. Without him, these cases could not be filed. We all owe him a large debt of gratitude.

    • Q

      Thank you Frank;

      Janice, if you ever need someone out this way (San Bernardino & Riverside, or anywhere else for that matter) I’m available & more than willing.

    • MM

      Thank you Frank for your courage and Thank You Janice for your passion!!! Many of us owe you …

  4. Anonymous

    This kind of blatant disregard for constitutional law will only be changed with consistency and repetition. I am glad to see so many challenges to these issues. You have my thanks.

  5. Joe

    Frank Lindsay – respect & thanks!

  6. Eric Knight

    Hopefully, in years to come, this will be known as “The Bellucci Strategem.” Brilliant idea to have simultaneous cases in all four California jurisdictions!

    I can’t wait until the Northern District gets the case for one of its lucky cities in its jurisdiction to complete the parlay.

  7. nathan

    Any other cities getting nervous about getting the lawsuits paperwork?

  8. Ron Lake County, CA

    Although Lake County was a previous violator of constitutional laws, they are now very afraid to do anything that may get them sued. Our Sheriff is on the “Brady List” (the only Sheriff in the U.S. to be placed on the Brady list and not resign). Our poor County spends a large part of the budget on constant litigation (mostly caused by the Sheriff since he can’t be fired and refuses to quit).

  9. Someone who cares

    Thank you Frank and Janice. I can’t begin to tell you how much that means to everyone affected by this.

  10. Eric Knight

    San Diego Union-Tribune chimes in. They have comments as well!

  11. Eric Knight

    More favorable Union-Tribune editorial.

    Relatively favorable editorial in the Union Tribune regarding the National City lawsuit.

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