The San Diego City Council took the wrong action for the wrong reason last week when they failed to repeal the city’s residency restrictions which, if enforced, would prohibit registrants from living in virtually all of that city.
The wrong action was taken by five members of the City Council who voted against repeal of the city’s residency restrictions. The reason for their votes is beyond comprehension.
In many votes taken by elected officials, the elected officials will vote against an issue because it is unpopular and could adversely affect their re-election. We don’t condone that reason but it is at least a reason we understand.
What we cannot understand is why four City Council members who will not face re-election until November 2018, more than a year away, voted against repeal. What is even less understandable is why the remaining member of the Council voted against repeal when she will not face re-election until November 2020, more than three years away.
Our lack of understanding is even greater given that the San Diego City Attorney recommended and initiated repeal of the city’s residency restrictions. Further, the City Attorney stated publicly that the restrictions are probably not enforceable and may violate the Constitution. In addition, she may be responsible for the matter being placed on the Consent Calendar of the City Council meeting, which is reserved for noncontroversial votes.
Although most of the City Council members who voted against repeal did not disclose the reason for their vote, one member did so when she openly stated that she doesn’t like “them (registrants) living in our communities” and expressed concern that her daughter wouldn’t be able to safely walk the family dog if the restrictions were repealed. She also referred to unnamed studies that demonstrate that registrants cannot be rehabilitated.
Her last statement was repeated by one of the four City Council members who voted in favor of the repeal. How dare they repeat this lie! How dare they fail to educate themselves on this important topic! For if they had made even a small effort to educate themselves, they would have easily found both academic research and government studies that clearly demonstrate that most registrants are rehabilitated and do not re-offend.
The City Councilman who repeated this lie eventually spoke the truth when he predicted that the City of San Diego would be sued if they failed to repeal their residency restrictions. He also predicted that the lawsuit would be successful and cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars. We certainly hope his predictions are true and note that this could be an expensive and worthwhile lesson for the City of San Diego and its residents. We also hope that, in addition to paying for their mistakes, the members of the City Council will take the time necessary to educate themselves and those they represent on this important matter.
— by Janice Bellucci
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