A sex offender (“registrant”) wishing to relocate to the City of Long Beach where he conducts business filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging sex offender residency restrictions. An ordinance adopted by the City Council of Long Beach prohibits most registrants from living within 2,000 feet of a child day care center, park, or school.
The lawsuit will be served tomorrow on the City of Long Beach. CA Reform Sex Offender Laws President and attorney Janice Bellucci filed the lawsuit today on behalf of plaintiff Frank Lindsay.
“Long Beach’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 Long Beach’s “banishment” of registrants violates the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments as well as the Ex Post Facto Clause of the United States Constitution.
The California Supreme Court in March 2015 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 Long Beach 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 Long Beach is approximately 9,300 persons per square mile as compared to only 680 in San Diego County. Long Beach’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.