An Irvine resident who is on the state’s sex offender registry is challenging a city rule that prevents him from taking his own child to a public park, according to a lawsuit he filed and an attorney representing him.
Irvine’s municipal code requires people on the registry who were convicted of an offense involving a minor to get written permission from the police chief to enter any city park or recreation facility; violation of the rule is a misdemeanor that could carry a fine or jail time.
In a lawsuit filed in August, two plaintiffs – the Irvine resident, listed only as John Doe, and the Alliance for Constitutional Sex Offense Laws – allege that the city’s parks rule is preempted by a 2014 state appeals court ruling.
The appeals court found that state laws already govern sex offenders’ daily lives, including where they can live and how they are monitored, and those state laws supersede local rules. One of two cases addressed by the 2014 ruling involved a man who was arrested when he went to an Irvine park to play tennis.
On Friday, Irvine City Attorney Jeff Melching declined to comment because of the current litigation.
According to the suit, John Doe’s son “has a medical condition that requires constant parental supervision, particularly during recreational activity,” but Doe has avoided Irvine parks because of the city’s rule.
“He’s a taxpayer, so why shouldn’t he be able to use the parks for which he is paying, in part, from his taxes,” said attorney Janice Bellucci, the alliance’s executive director.
She added that Irvine’s rule doesn’t set up any process for getting the police chief’s permission to visit a park.
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