A lawsuit has been filed in San Bernardino County Superior Court challenging the Halloween restrictions of the City of Rialto. Specifically, there is an ordinance adopted and enforced by the City of Rialto that prohibits all registrants on Halloween from decorating their front yards and exteriors with “typical Halloween decorations”, from opening the doors of their residence to trick-or-treaters and from leaving on any exterior residential, decorative and ornamental lights. If this ordinance is violated, registrants may be fined up to $1,000 and sentenced to up to six months in jail.
The City of Rialto passed this ordinance in 2013 and continues to enforce by conducting compliance operations that include contacting registrants at their residence on Halloween. In addition, the City has invited the public to report any violations of the ordinance to the city’s police department.
According to the lawsuit, the Halloween restrictions at issue are preempted by state law which has “established a comprehensive and standardized system for regulation sex offenders to the exclusion of all local regulation.”
“The City’s Halloween restrictions also do not increase public safety because threats to children from registrants on Halloween are virtually non-existent according to a nine-year study conducted by Ph.D. Jill Levenson,” stated ACSOL Executive Director Janice Bellucci. “Dr. Levenson’s findings in fact suggest that Halloween restrictions may in fact be targeting a new urban myth similar to past myths warning parents of tainted treats.”
According to the lawsuit, the ordinance is an arbitrary, politically motivated act imposed by a local government in response to popular sentiments that are based upon misinformation, and which seeks retribution against registrants who constitute a socially outcast minority. The lawsuit requests that the Halloween restrictions adopted and enforced by the City of Rialto be stricken permanently.