A Grover Beach man is suing the city, claiming its restrictions limiting where registered sex offenders can live are unconstitutional. The city attorney says the city will fight the lawsuit.
Frank Lindsay, 62, and his legal counsel have been part of about 30 similar lawsuits across the state, challenging restrictions placed on registered sex offenders.
Lindsay was convicted in 1979 for lewd acts involving a victim younger than 14, for which he was required to register with the California Megan’s Law sex offender registry.
Santa Maria lawyer Janice Bellucci, who represents Lindsay, said because of a 2010 attack at his Grover Beach home, Lindsay has become uncomfortable in his current residence and wants to move to a new location within the city. But he discovered that an amended ordinance passed by the City Council last year prevents him from doing so.
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In March 2014, the City Council expanded its residency restrictions for registered sex offenders within the city, prohibiting offenders whose offense was with a minor from setting up a temporary or permanent residence within 2,000 feet of protected locations such as schools, parks and daycare centers. The council had previously imposed a 1,000-foot restriction in 2007.
“For most of us, being attacked in our own home would make us feel uncomfortable,” Bellucci said. “But because of this ordinance, Mr. Lindsay has been unable to move from this place. ... The bottom line is these laws are going too far.”
According to Bellucci, Paso Robles is the only other city in San Luis Obispo County to have such a restrictive ordinance. Paso prohibits sex offenders who committed acts with a minor from living within 1,320 feet of a protected location.
Lindsay’s current Grover Beach home is within 2,000 feet of a protected place, but was grandfathered in because he was already living there at the time the new ordinance passed.
Bellucci said because of the ordinance, and considering residential zoning constraints, Lindsay is unable to live in roughly 99 percent of the city. Because of this, Lindsay is hoping to have the ordinance repealed by a judge.
“We think these rules are completely unconstitutional,” Bellucci said. “And we want a court ruling that says so. We won’t settle unless this ordinance is stopped as well.”
Bellucci and Lindsay filed the lawsuit against the city of Grover Beach on June 16. The city originally had until Thursday to file its official response to the suit but requested and was granted an extension to July 23.
Grover Beach City Attorney Martin Koczanowicz said the city will be defending against the lawsuit, though he would not provide details of the city’s stance on the ordinance or how it plans to argue against the lawsuit because the litigation is pending.
Koczanowicz noted that he was “not aware of any contact from Mr. Lindsay (with the city) to request to move or any instance in which the city has prevented Mr. Lindsay from moving from his residence.”
He said he has also heard that Lindsay and Bellucci have filed similar lawsuits challenging restrictions on sex offenders with other cities in the past, though he had not yet researched those claims.
Bellucci confirmed that she and Lindsay have filed other lawsuits with cities across California. Since January 2014, she said they have filed about 30 lawsuits, though this is the first challenging a residency restriction.
The other lawsuits challenged presence and proximity restrictions that limit where a registered sex offender can go in a city, mostly regarding public parks. Lindsay was listed as a plaintiff in some but not all of those, Bellucci said, because in some of those cities, the restrictions do not apply to offenders whose convictions are as old as Lindsay’s.
When not listed as a plaintiff, Lindsay was involved in the lawsuits as chief financial officer of an advocacy group, California Reform Sex Offender Laws. Bellucci is board president.