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.