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OCDASeal

Orange County District Attorney
Press Release


Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701

For Immediate Release


 




January 26, 2012

Contacts:

Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
Office: 714-347-8408
Cell: 714-292-2718

Farrah Emami
Spokesperson
Office: 714-347-8405
Cell: 714-323-4486

ORANGE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY APPLAUDS RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA FOR ADOPTING NEW LAW TO KEEP REGISTERED SEX OFFENDERS OUT OF CITY PARKS AND PLAYGROUNDS

 

SANTA ANA – The City of Rancho Santa Margarita enacted yesterday a law to create child safety zones to protect children from registered sex offenders in city parks and playgrounds after a first reading of the ordinance. Rancho Santa Margarita City Council voted unanimously to pass the ordinance adopted yesterday, Jan. 25, 2012. There will be a second reading of the Ordinance at a later date. The Ordinance becomes effective 30 days after the second reading. The City Council includes Mayor L. Anthony Beall, Mayor pro tempore Steven Baric, and Council Members Carol Gamble, Jerry Holloway, and Jesse Petrilla.

 

Orange County Senior Deputy District Attorney Brian Fitzpatrick was present at the City Council meeting to address public concerns and advocate for the passage of the ordinance. 

 

“Rancho Santa Margarita was one of the first cities to take on the issue of creating safety zones to protect children from sexual predators,” stated District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. “The city was in a unique situation because all of its existing parks are owned by homeowner associations and coordination was needed with the entities to enforce the law.  I am happy for the children and parents of Rancho Santa Margarita that this law passed and they are empowered to keep sexual predators out of their parks at their request.”

 

“In Rancho Santa Margarita, public safety is our number one priority and we are dedicated to providing law enforcement every possible tool in order to ensure that our parks, neighborhoods, and homes are always kept safe,” stated Mayor L. Anthony Beall.

 

"The first responsibility of government is to protect its citizens. We in Rancho Santa Margarita have always taken this responsibility seriously. I would like to thank my colleagues on the City Council for supporting the ‘child safety zone ordinance,’ that I proposed,” said Mayor pro tempore Steven Baric. “I look forward to working with the Sheriff's Department and the District Attorney's Office to ensure that all of our parks are safe for our children."

 

“We realize that sex predators are just that, predators. They prey on our children. We are doing whatever we can to provide the necessary tools to law enforcement to help protect our residents from these vicious individuals,” stated Council Member Jesse Petrilla. “I am proud of my colleagues for supporting the ordinance, and particularly Council Member Steven Baric for introducing it to our city.”

 

 

California Penal Code sections 290, et seq. require individuals convicted of certain crimes to register as sex offenders. The registration process is used to ensure that such offenders shall be readily available for police surveillance at all times because such offenders are deemed likely to commit similar offenses in the future.

 

The Rancho Santa Margarita City Ordinance was modeled after the County Ordinance, which was passed unanimously by the Orange County Board of Supervisors April 5, 2011, and took effect May 5, 2011, to create a child safety zone to further protect children from registered sex offenders in County parks and harbors. The Ordinance was developed and proposed by Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas and Supervisor Shawn Nelson (Fourth District) and makes it a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a $500 fine, for registered sex offenders to enter County recreational areas where children regularly gather without permission from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD), who enforce the Ordinance.

 

The Rancho Santa Margarita Ordinance will additionally require signage at individual parks informing the public of the Ordinance. Also, the OCSD may consider the following objective criteria when making a determination as to granting waivers for a sex offender to enter a Rancho Santa Margarita park: (1) Accompanying a minor for whom the registered sex offender is a parent or legal guardian and where the registered sex offender is not otherwise prohibited under any condition of parole or probation; (2) Accessing a park for the purposes of exercising the rights of free speech or assembly; (3) Accessing a park for the purposes of lawful employment; (4) Accessing a park for the purpose of voting in any local, state, or federal election; or (5) Accessing a park for the purposes of attending a religious service.

 

After enacting the County Ordinance, District Attorney Rackauckas, Chairman of the Board Bill Campbell, and County Supervisors Nelson, Patricia Bates, and Janet Nguyen sent letters to each Orange County city encouraging them to consider a similar ordinance for their city parks. Since May 2011, the Cities of Huntington Beach, Laguna Hills, Lake Forest La Habra, Los Alamitos, Mission Viejo, Westminster, and Yorba Linda have enacted a City Ordinance modeled after the County Ordinance. The City of Irvine enacted a City Ordinance banning some sex offenders at city parks on June 14, 2011. Several other Orange County cities are considering ordinances at this time including Anaheim, Brea, Buena Park, San Juan Capistrano, Santa Ana, and Seal Beach.

 

To read the full County Ordinance, please visit www.orangecountyda.com and select the April 5, 2011, press release entitled “Orange County Board of Supervisors Unanimously Votes to Adopt New Law to Keep Registered Sex Offenders Out of Parks, Harbors, Beaches and Playgrounds,” under Press Releases/Media Advisories.

 

The Rancho Santa Margarita City Ordinance is as follows:

 

ORDINANCE NO. 12-01

 

AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA, CALIFORNIA, ADDING CHAPTER 6.13 TO TITLE 6 OF THE RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA MUNICIPAL CODE PROHIBITING REGISTERED SEX OFFENDERS FROM ENTERING CITY PARKS AND SPECIFIED PRIVATE HOMEOWNER ASSOCIATION COMMUNITY PARKS AND RECREATIONAL AREAS WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION FROM THE ORANGE COUNTY SHERIFF

 

WHEREAS, the California Sex Registration Act, codified in California Penal Code sections 290 et seq., requires persons convicted of specific sex offenses to register with "the chief of police of the city in which he or she is residing, or the sheriff of the county if he or she is residing in an unincorporated area or city that has no police department, and, additionally, with the chief of police of a campus of the University of California, the California State University, or community college if he or she is residing upon the campus or in any of its facilities, within five working days of coming into, or changing his or her residence within, any city, county, or city and county, or campus in which he or she temporarily resides"; and

 

WHEREAS, Proposition 83, codified in California Penal Code section 3003.5, prohibits any person on parole or probation required to register as a sex offender pursuant to the California Penal Code section 290 et seq., from residing within two thousand (2,000) feet of any public or private school, or any park where children regularly gather; and

 

WHEREAS, pursuant to Penal Code section 626.81, registered sex offenders are restricted from entering upon school premises without lawful business thereon and written permission from the chief administrative official of that school; and

 

WHEREAS, on April 5, 2011, the Orange County Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted a new County Child Safety Zone Ordinance to create a child safety zone in County owned parks to further protect children from registered sex offenders, and on April 19, 2011, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas sent a letter to the City urging the City Council to enact laws similar to the County Child Safety Zone Ordinance to protect children in parks in the City; and

 

WHEREAS, the City of Rancho Santa Margarita is an attractive place for families and children because of the City's family-oriented environment, numerous parks and recreational facilities, and community character; and

 

WHEREAS, according to the 2010 Census Data, approximately 29% of the City's population is under 18 years of age; and

 

WHEREAS, parks within the City of Rancho Santa Margarita are places where children and families frequently gather and visit; and WHEREAS, sex offenders have high recidivism rates that exceed those exhibited by other convicted criminals as indicated in a report published in 2003 issued by the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics entitled "Recidivism of Sex Offenders Released From Prison in 1994", which showed, from a study of prisoners released in 1994 from fifteen (15) states, that released sex offenders were four times (4x) more likely to be rearrested for a new sex crime as compared to non-sex offenders released (a copy of this report is available for review at the City Clerk's Office); and

 

WHEREAS, according to the Megan's Law website maintained by the California Department of Justice, of the current nine (9) registered sex offenders residing in the City of Rancho Santa Margarita, eight (8) of those registered sex offenders were convicted of offenses involving minors under the age of 18 years old; and

 

WHEREAS, in an effort to protect the health, safety and welfare of minors and families within the City, the City Council desires to take additional action to further protect children and potential victims from dangerous sex offender predators by establishing child safety zones that prohibit sex offenders from entering into or upon the premises of parks located within the City, which are places where children regularly gather; and

 

WHEREAS, the City Council hereby finds that the City has a compelling interest in protecting children and families in places where they regularly gather, such as all City parks and specified private homeowner association community parks and recreational areas, from sexual predators.

 

THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA,

CALIFORNIA, DOES HEREBY ORDAIN AS FOLLOWS:

 

SECTION 1.               Chapter 6.13 is hereby added to Title 6 of the Rancho Santa Margarita Municipal Code as follows:

 

Chapter 6.13                 Child Safety Zones - Prohibition of Registered Sex Offenders from Entering Parks.

 

Sections:

 

Sec. 6.13.010 Purpose and Intent.

Sec. 6.13.020 Definitions.

Sec. 6.13.030 Prohibitions.

Sec. 6.13.040 Signage Posting Requirement.

Sec. 6.13.050 Penalties for Violations.

Sec. 6.13.060 Other Prosecution Authorized.

Sec. 6.13.070 Waiver Criteria.

 

Sec. 6.13.010 Purpose and Intent.

 

It is the purpose and intent of this Chapter to protect children from registered sex offenders by restricting sex offenders' access to locations where children regularly gather. It is also the purpose and intent of this Chapter to reduce the risk of harm to children by impacting the ability of sex offenders to be in contact with children. It is further the intent of this Chapter to provide additional restrictions beyond those provided for in state law by restricting sex offenders from certain limited locations, and by allowing for criminal penalties for violations of this Chapter. It is not the intent of this Chapter to allow conduct otherwise prohibited by state law or to contradict state law. City parks and specified private homeowner association community parks and recreational areas in the City of Rancho Santa Margarita are recognized by the City Council as locations where children regularly gather.

 

Sec. 6.13.020 Definitions.

 

For purposes of this Chapter, the following terms are defined as follows:

 

Child, children or minor(s) means any person(s) under eighteen (18) years of age.

 

Park means any and all City owned, operated, leased, or maintained land established before or after the effective date of this ordinance for park, recreation, or open space purposes where child regularly gather. Records identifying, describing, and depicting the location of these areas shall be maintained on file in the office of the city clerk for review and inspection.

 

Park shall also include homeowner association owned, operated, leased or maintained common areas established before or after the effective date of this ordinance for private park, recreation, or open space purposes where children regularly gather, where the homeowners' association has provided written notice to the City requesting enforcement of this ordinance for the following park areas: (1) Altisima Park; (2) Arroyo Vista Park; (3) Beach Club and Lagoon; (4) Canada Vista Park; (5) Central Park; (6) Cielo Vista Park; (7) Country Hollow Lane Park; (8) Dove Canyon Swim and Racquet Club; (9) Estrella Vista Park; (10) Ike Arnold Park; (11) Lago Santa Margarita; (12) Mesa Linda Park; (13) Monte Vista Park; (14) San Benito Park; (15) Solana Park; (16) Sycamore Canyon Drive Park; (17) Tijeras Creek Park; (18) Trabuco Highlands Central Park; (19) Trabuco Mesa Park; (20) Vista Verde Park; (21) Walden Park; (22) Galisteo Recreational Area; (23) Los Abanicos Recreational Area; (24) Los Paseos Recreational Area; and (25) Rancho Cielo Recreational Area. Records identifying, describing, and depicting the location of these areas shall be maintained on file in the office of the city clerk for review and inspection.

 

Orange County Sheriff shall mean the Orange County Sheriff or the Sheriff's designee.

 

Sec. 6.13.030 Prohibitions.

 

Any person required to register pursuant to California Penal Code sections 290, et seq., who enters into or upon any Park within the City where children regularly gather without written permission from the Orange County Sheriff, is guilty of a misdemeanor. Each entry into any such area, regardless of the time period between entries, shall constitute a separate offense under this ordinance.

 

Sec. 6.13.040 Signage Posting Requirement.

For all Parks, a notice in substantially the following form shall be posted:

 

"Any person required to register pursuant to Penal Code §290 is prohibited from entering into or upon this park without written authorization from the Orange County Sheriff's Department. (RSMMC Chapter 6.13)"

 

Sec. 6.13.050 Penalties for Violation.

 

Punishment for a violation of this ordinance shall be as follows:

 

(1)     Upon a first conviction, by imprisonment in a county jail for a period of not more than six months, or by a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars ($500), or by both imprisonment and a fine.

 

(2)     Upon a second conviction, by imprisonment in a county jail for a period of not less than ten (10) days and not more than six months, or by both imprisonment and a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars ($500). Upon a second conviction, however, the person shall not be released on probation, parole, or any other basis until he or she has served not less than ten (10) days.

 

(3)     Upon a third or subsequent conviction, by imprisonment in a county jail for

a period of not less than ninety (90) days and not more than six months, or by both imprisonment and a fine not exceeding five hundred dollars ($500). Upon a third or subsequent conviction, however, the person shall not be released on probation, parole, or any other basis until he or she has served not less than ninety (90) days.

 

Sec. 6.13.060 Other Prosecution Authorized.

 

Nothing in this Chapter shall preclude or prohibit prosecution under any other provision of law. This Chapter shall not apply to persons already restricted from parks pursuant to California Penal Code section 3053.8.

 

Sec. 6.13.070  Waiver Criteria.

 

Notwithstanding the foregoing, a registered sex offender may, by written request made to the Orange County Sheriff, which request shall be date, time, and location specific, seek written authorization to enter into or upon a Park. The Orange County Sheriff shall evaluate each written request to determine whether to grant, conditionally grant, or deny the request. Reasons that may justify the request include:

 

(1) Accompanying a minor for whom the registered sex offender is a parent or legal guardian and where the registered sex offender is not otherwise prohibited under any condition of parole or probation;

(2) Accessing the Park for the purposes of exercising the rights of free speech or assembly;

(3) Accessing the Park for purposes of lawful employment;

(4) Accessing the Park for the purposes of voting in any local, state, or federal election; or

(5) Accessing the Park for the purposes of attending a religious service.

 

SECTION 2.              If any section, subsection, subdivision, sentence, clause, phrase, or portion of this Ordinance is, for any reason, held to be invalid or unconstitutional by the decision of any court of competent jurisdiction, such decision shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions of this Ordinance. The City Council hereby declares that it would have adopted this Ordinance and each section, subsection, subdivision, sentence, clause, phrase, or portion thereof, irrespective of the fact that anyone or more section, subsection, subdivision, sentence, clause, phrase, or portion thereof be declared invalid or unconstitutional.

 

SECTION 3.               The City Clerk shall certify to the adoption of this Ordinance and cause the same to be posted at the duly designated posting places within the City and published once within fifteen days after passage and adoption as may be required by law; or, in the alternative, the City Clerk may cause to be published a summary of this Ordinance and a certified copy of the text of this Ordinance shall be posted in the Office of the City Clerk five days prior to the date of adoption of this Ordinance; and, within fifteen days after adoption, the City Clerk shall cause to be published, the aforementioned summary and shall post a certified copy of this Ordinance, together with the vote for and against the same, in the Office of the City Clerk.

 

 

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