The City of Lompoc, located in Santa Barbara County, is expected to finalize repeal of its residency restrictions during a City Council meeting on August 20. The City Council took the first step toward repeal on August 6.
“Residency restrictions in the City of Lompoc prohibit individuals convicted of a sex offense from staying overnight for even one night,” stated ACSOL Executive Director Janice Bellucci. “This prohibition includes staying in the home of a friend or a relative as well as hotels and motels and even camping.”
Lompoc’s repeal of its residency restrictions is the result of a lawsuit filed in state court on February 14, 2019, based upon an alleged violation of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as well as preemption of state law. The city and the plaintiff have entered into a settlement agreement which provides for repeal of the residency restrictions as well as payment of attorneys’ fees and costs.
The lawsuit filed against the City of Lompoc is the thirty-third lawsuit filed challenging residency restrictions in the state of California. Subsequent to filing of that lawsuit, an additional four lawsuits have been filed for a total of 37 lawsuits. Of that total, there are five cases still pending. Of the lawsuits that have already been resolved, the cities have either completely repealed or significantly revised their residency restrictions.
The oldest lawsuit challenging residency restrictions that is still pending was filed against the City of San Diego on August 7, 2017, in federal district court. The City of San Diego filed a Motion to Dismiss that case, however, the court denied that motion in January 2019. Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment in the case on June 27, 2019, however the court has not yet ruled on that motion.
The California Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that residency restrictions in the County of San Diego (not the City of San Diego) violated both the federal and state constitutions. In that case, the Court found that registrants were prohibited from living in 97 percent of the county’s housing. In its decision the Court ruled that registrants in California “retain certain basic rights and liberty interests, and enjoy a measure of constitutional protection against arbitrary, oppressive and unreasonable curtailment of ‘the core values of unqualified liberty….'” The Court also ruled that blanket enforcement of residency restrictions “cannot survive rational basis scrutiny because because it has hampered efforts to monitor, supervise, and rehabilitate such parolees in the interests of public safety…”
The California Supreme Court also stated that residency restrictions impermissibly “impact the ability of some petitioners to live and associate with family members” because “if the family members’ residence is not in a compliant location, they [i.e., Registrants] cannot live there.” Finally, the Court stated that residency restrictions are “disruptive in a way that hinders” Registrants’ access to reasonably opportunities for employment, medical treatment, psychological counseling, drug and alcohol dependency services, other rehabilitative and social services.”
Because the population density in the City of San Diego is far greater than the population density in the County of San Diego, the plaintiffs in the case challenging the city’s residency restrictions are ultimately expected to be successful. A trial date for that case has not yet been set, however, the next hearing in the case is scheduled for September 3, 2019, in order to discuss potential settlement.