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Murrieta Residency Restrictions Challenged in Federal Court

A registrant wishing to relocate to the City of Murrieta is challenging the residency restrictions adopted by the City of Murrieta, located in Riverside County. The restrictions prohibit most registrants from living within 2,000 feet of a child day care center, park, or school. CA Reform Sex Offender Laws President and attorney Janice Bellucci filed the lawsuit on October 6 on behalf of plaintiff Frank Lindsay.

“Murrieta’s residency restrictions effectively banish most registrants from residing in that city,” stated Bellucci. “The restrictions prohibit registrants from living in at least 90 percent of the city. In addition, more than half of the land available to registrants is zoned for commercial use, office space, open space, or other non-residential use.”

In addition to significantly limiting where a registrant may lawfully reside, the ordinance requires registrants to live in areas where there is a lack of affordable housing. That is, most of the housing where a registrant may live is made up of single family homes, which are unaffordable for “virtually all Registrants.”

The lawsuit claims that Murrieta’s “banishment” of registrants violates the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments as well as the Ex Post Facto Clause of the United States Constitution.

Earlier this year, the California Supreme Court struck down similar residency restrictions (Jessica’s Law) in San Diego County (in the case of In re Taylor). The court determined in that case, “(The law) has hampered efforts to monitor, supervise and rehabilitate such parolees in the interests of public safety, and as such, bears no rational relationship to advancing the state’s legitimate goal of protecting children from sexual predators.”

The current lawsuit states that the Murrieta residency restrictions “contradict and hamper the objectives of Jessica’s Law; fail to protect the public; and deprive registrants of stable homes, family support, social and medical services, and other means necessary to live productive, law-abiding lives.”

The lawsuit notes that the population density of Murrieta is approximately 3,100 persons per square mile as compared to only 680 in San Diego County. Murrieta’s restrictions therefore result in a greater impact on registrants, potentially forcing many to become homeless. The California Sex Offender Management Board has determined that homeless sex offenders pose a greater risk and utilize more law enforcement resources than offenders with residence and employment.

Bellucci sued the City of Murrieta on behalf of registrants in October 2014 when she successfully challenged the City’s presence restrictions which prohibited registrants from visiting most areas within the city.

Media

Sex offender challenges Murrieta’s residency law

Join the discussion

  1. jo

    Go get ’em Team!

  2. USA

    Very disturbing. A Federal Judge ruled this unconstitutional, but yet cities seem to only apply the law when its in their favor. I would love to see one of these lawsuits stick/never back down and take it to the end and make the city pay. Its highly disturbing to see how hateful or hurtful a city or officials can me. These laws create havoc/anger/break up families and study after study shows they have NO affect/yet the opposite on public safety. Yet, the cities continue to enact them? Very disturbing.

  3. David

    Murrieta, prepare to lose!
    Janice and CARSOL will, oh yes, will win!

  4. Q

    Let’s hope they aren’t as obstinate and unyielding as some cities have been in the past. Hopefully the civic leaders will concede to the fact that their laws have been rules unconstitutional and are therefore illegal. If they are smart they will just repeal their residency restriction laws and make their city a safer place for everyone.

    (ps) In your face George and Sharon!

  5. Gail Colletta

    I’m proud to support such effort by this attorney and the organization and individuals she represents. These communities which are imposing such restrictions on anyone should be ashamed of themselves. This is the USA, we are supposed to be a nation of civilized rational people. I find it unconscionable that we could endorse such behavior against anyone. These registered citizens are people who have made a bad choice, were sentenced by the courts, paid their debt to society , therefore they should be afforded the protection under our constitution to pursue, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as is every other citizen of our country. They should be provided the opportunity to seek and obtain, housing, employment and family. Anyone who has read anything on this subject should understand these basic human needs are the foundation for living successfully as contributors to our communities. I know these basic elements of support lower risk of reoffending as well as drive our economic growth. I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather have a person productively employed, living in a stable environment, paying taxes than having them be other able bodied person being supported by my tax dollars or utilizing resources of law enforcement which could be better used towards education and prevention of future offenses.

    Go Janice!

  6. SC

    Two of the five council members are having problems of their own.

    Alan Long was arrested for DUI. I don’t find that it has been resolved yet.
    http://www.pe.com/articles/long-755935-crash-report.html

    The current Mayor, Harry Ramos, is fighting claims of sexual harassment.
    http://abc7.com/news/murrieta-mayor-accused-of-sexually-assaulting-woman-at-mixer/876374/

    http://www.pe.com/articles/ramos-782730-report-council.html

    I get the Murrieta City Council meetings on my local cable, so I’ll be able to watch the action.

    Thank you Janice and Frank.

    • ocguy

      You’re gonna have to do without Mayor Ramos on the next broadcast. Hot off the press:

      Murrieta Council Ousts Mayor Over Ethics Allegations
      http://patch.com/california/murrieta/murrieta-council-consider-sanctions-against-mayor-0

      Like someone said, this reads like textbook ‘Sexual Battery’. Not unlike the City of Carson mayor (who is also civilly sued for sexual harassment)….

      • ocguy

        … and yes, thank you, Frank and Janice. You go!!!!

      • Q

        Thanks for the update ocguy. That Ramos character is obviously a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic; and I strongly suspect most of the proponents of laws that oppress and ruin people for life are equally off center, they just hide it better than Ramos, which makes them much more dangerous to the public and America in general. I suspect there’s a couple of reasons why he isn’t being prosecuted and persecuted as many of us have been.

        1. He is/was a public servant and probably has connections, and he is “one of them.”

        2. There were no witnesses to the alleged transgressions, and a witness stated that things looked mutually friendly that day.

        If these allegations were aimed at you or I we would have already been convicted before the local papers ran their first story about the police saving everybody from a monster.

    • Q

      I read about the mayor but hadn’t heard about the other counsel member. It’s these two that are a menace to society. If anyone is going to be banished it should be these two. They are the dangerous ones, empirically and statistically we are not the dangerous ones; these two are and it’s their kind that seem to scream for our further persecution the loudest.

    • SC

      Rick Gibbs is the only current council person who was on the council when the residence and presence (now repealed) codes were passed. At the time, he was milking the issue for all it was worth because several citizens were pushing the restrictions. If he has changed his mind, or finds no political advantage in maintaining the residence restrictions, then they will probably be repealed. http://murrieta.org/cityhall/clerk/council/default.asp#.VhgSefQXSX_

  7. michael w

    ON a kind of similar line I just went to renew my priceclub membership and I asked if the county of riverside has yet to repeal their presence ordinance and the officers stated that to their knowledge it is still in full effect, are you working on that yet Janice?

  8. Eric Knight

    The story itself is a laugher. It starts like this:

    MURRIETA – (INT) – A registered sex offender (Frank Lindsay) is learning the consequences of a future in this community.

    Ah, no. Frank can run RINGS around ANYONE in Murietta with regard to “the consequences” of the registration law. He’s at the forefront of every major federal lawsuit in the State of California with regard to those “consequences.”

    Instead, it is the city council whom will find out about “the future (of Frank) in this community”… the HARD way.

  9. SC

    This case is on the Murrrieta City Council agenda for 10/20/2015 at 4PM, the Closed Session. Item CS2.

    http://www3.murrieta.org/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=608&doctype=agenda&itemid=36665

    • Janice Bellucci

      Thank you for the update re: the City Council meeting. Given the other issues they are dealing with, including the mayor, it is unlikely that anything will be announced during the meeting. Perhaps, however, we will hear from the City Attorney after the meeting. If so, we will provide you with an update.

    • SC

      There was no discussion of Closed Session activity during the televised open session on 10/20/2015, so I have no additional information about this litigation.

    • SC

      This topic is not on the Murrieta Council agenda for 11/3/2015.

  10. a mom

    Janice,
    Are there any updates on this issue in Murrieta yet?

  11. SC

    The latest Docket entry on this case, found at:
    https://ecf.cacd.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl

    Case Number:
    5:15-cv-02055-VAP-DTB Frank Lindsay v. City of Murrieta et al

    02/12/2016 20 ORDER GRANTING IN PARTY AND DENYING IN PARTY DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO DISMISS by Judge Virginia A. Phillips re: 15 MOTION to Dismiss Case. (See document for specifics.) (iva) (Entered: 02/12/2016)

    • SC

      The latest Docket entry on this case, found at:
      https://ecf.cacd.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl

      Case Number:
      5:15-cv-02055-VAP-DTB Frank Lindsay v. City of Murrieta et al

      04/08/2016 20 ORDER SETTING SCHEDULING CONFERENCE by Judge Virginia A. Phillips. Scheduling Conference set for 6/6/2016 at 01:30 PM before Judge Virginia A. Phillips. (wro) (Entered: 04/08/2016)

      There is nothing significant about this entry. The case is simply proceeding to this routine step. I have a special interest in this case, so I check on it periodically. These things take a long time.

  12. HH

    Sc – what does this mean exactly ?

    • Lake County

      From what I could tell, it means the case was settled in Franks favor and the City must pay CARSOL $5000 for attorney (Janice) fees. Nice job Janice!

    • SC

      HH, It just means that the case is proceeding. The City of Murrieta filed a Motion to Dismiss. The Motion was heard on 2/8/2016 and the decision entered on 2/12/2016. The motion was granted in part and denied in part. I did not read the motions. A motion to dismiss is a common step in every litigation. The case is just moving along. I mainly wanted to inform “a mom” about the case status and where she could get more information. If anything important happens, I’m sure Janice will post it.

  13. SC

    Here’s the latest scheduling information on this case:
    “The Court also modifies its Scheduling Order (Dkt. 32) as follows, […] Discovery cut-off: February 17, 2017; Summary judgment motion hearing cut-off: March 20, 2017 at 2:00 p.m.; Last day to conduct mediation: February 10, 2017; Pretrial conference: April 10, 2017 at 2:30 p.m.; Court trial: April 18, 2017 at 9:00 a.m. (bm)”

    “Effective November 14, 2016, Judge Phillips will be located at the 1st Street Courthouse, COURTROOM 8A on the 8th floor, located at 350 W. 1st Street, Los Angeles, California 90012. All Court appearances shall be made in Courtroom 8A of the 1st Street Courthouse.”

    Put it on your calendars.

  14. SC

    Murrieta City Council will discuss this today, 2/21/2017, at 4:15pm in the closed session.
    http://www3.murrieta.org/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=707&doctype=agenda&itemid=39710

    • Janice Bellucci

      The City Council will also discuss a revised ordinance during the public part of the meeting which reduces its residency restrictions from 2,000 feet to 1,000 feet. Even if this reduction is agreed to by the City Council, the lawsuit will continue because the reduction does not comply with the Constitution or the CA Supreme Court decision of In re Taylor issued in March 2015.

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