The city of Grover Beach is taking steps to repeal its law limiting where registered sex offenders can live, although state law restricting residency in specific circumstances will remain in effect.
The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to introduce an ordinance repealing its residency restrictions for registered sex offenders, as part of a settlement agreement with Grover Beach resident Frank Lindsay, who sued the city in June claiming the restrictions were unconstitutional.
“It is not something we are thrilled to be doing, but it is bringing us into compliance with state law,” Mayor John Shoals said at the meeting. “Our police force and other agencies will continue to track this and be vigilant.”
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 database.
The city currently prohibits offenders whose offense was with a minor under 18 from setting up a temporary or permanent residence within 2,000 feet of protected locations, such as schools, parks and day-care centers. The council expanded the rules in March 2014 from a 1,000-foot restriction it set in 2007.
In June, Lindsay, 62, and his legal counsel sued the city, claiming the city’s restrictions prevented Lindsay from moving to a new residence in the city after a break-in at his current Grover Beach home made him “uncomfortable” continuing to live there.
At the meeting Tuesday, Assistant City Attorney David Hale said it was advisable for the council to repeal the restrictions in light of a March 2015 ruling by the California Supreme Court that “residency restrictions may not be imposed upon sex offenders in a manner that deprives them of their constitutional rights and liberty interests, including their right to be free from arbitrary, oppressive, and unreasonable laws.”
The state does place restrictions on where some registered sex offenders can live. Jessica’s Law forbids high-risk sex offenders and those whose offense was with a minor younger than 14 from living within a half-mile of a school or place where children gather. The law does allow those offenders to petition the cities they reside in if the restriction prevents them from finding a suitable place to live within the city.
State law no longer places residency restrictions on sex offenders whose offenses were with individuals older than 14.
Hale said repealing the city ordinance would satisfy conditions of the settlement agreement with Lindsay.
On Wednesday, City Manager Martin Koczanowicz said the settlement agreement provided for a payment of “a relatively small sum to the organization called Family Safety Foundation ... and repeal of the City Code provisions that you saw on yesterday’s agenda.”
Family Safety Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to educate the public on child safety through the gathering and dissemination of information regarding the prevention of crimes against children, according to its website.
Lindsay did not speak at Tuesday night’s meeting.
The new ordinance is scheduled to come before the council for a second reading at its next meeting. If approved, it would go into effect within 30 days.