A sex offender ordinance adopted by the City of Commerce has been challenged in a lawsuit filed today in federal district court on behalf of a registered sex offender (“registered citizen”).

“This lawsuit was filed because the City of Commerce prohibits registered citizens from visiting the public library, parks, bus stops and commercial establishments that provide a children’s playground,” stated California RSOL president Janice Bellucci.  “The City has failed to revise or repeal its ordinance despite recent court decisions that determined such ordinances are preempted by state law.”

This is the 20th such lawsuit to be filed since March 24.  All 20 lawsuits challenge city and/or county ordinances that prohibit registered citizens from being present in public and/or private locations.  Below is a list of the local governments that have been sued prior to the City of Commerce as well as the date the suit was filed and whether the case has been settled.

Jurisdiction Date Filed Status
Pomona 3/24 settled
South Lake Tahoe 3/31 settled
National City 4/8 no settlement
Carson 4/11 no settlement
Lompoc 4/21 settled
Sacramento County 4/30 settled
Santa Ana 5/7 settled
Wasco 5/15 settled
Ontario 5/21 settled
Stockton 5/27 settled
Taft 5/29 settled
 Orange  6/17 settled
 Beaumont  6/24 settled
 Adelanto  7/21 settled
 Hesperia  7/24 settled
 Victorville  8/14 no settlement
 Westminster  8/29 settled
 South Pasadena  9/9 settlement pending
 Canyon Lake  9/24 no settlement yet
 Commerce  10/2

The City of Commerce ordinance includes restrictions regarding where registered citizens can be present or reside.  Specifically, the ordinance prohibits registered citizens from being present or residing within 300 feet of public libraries, parks, bus stops, schools and commercial establishments that provide a children’s playground.  An individual who violates the ordinance is subject to incarceration for up to six months and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

“The sex offender ordinance adopted by the City of Commerce violates both the federal and state constitutions,” stated California RSOL Vice President and attorney Chance Oberstein.  “The city’s ordinance is also inconsistent with a recent appellate court decision which determined in January 2014 that a similar ordinance, in the City of Irvine, was preempted by state law.  The California Supreme Court denied review of that decision more than five months ago — on April 23, 2014.”

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In addition to the cities that have been sued, there are almost 40 cities that have voluntarily repealed their ordinances which restrict the presence of registered citizens. There are another 21 cities that are considering what to do and 5 cities that refuse to communicate despite a series of letters and phone calls. The cities in the latter category are currently under review for future lawsuits.