Challenged With Lawsuit, Yucca Valley Jettisons Sex Offender Law

The Yucca Valley Town Council on Tuesday fully rescinded the town’s ordinance relating to sex offenders.
Acting upon the item as an “urgency ordinance,” the council dispensed with the previously enacted regulations in the face of a lawsuit filed against the town in February by an unnamed plaintiff represented by Attorney Janice Bellucci. Bellucci has had success in overturning similar ordinances in municipalities elsewhere in California.
Using the leeway granted cities and towns in California by the passage of Proposition 82 (“Jessica’s Law”) in 2006, the town in 2008 adopted an ordinance prohibiting any registered sex offender from residing within 2,000 feet of a school, park, or daycare center and from coming within 300 feet of any school or park. In 2015, the town repealed the 300-foot restriction, based on legal determinations that such local restrictions on where paroled sex offenders could live were preempted by state law. The town in 2017 revised the ordinance in accordance with a court decision that the 2,000-foot residency restriction only applied to sex offenders while they are on parole.
Bellucci’s suit has spooked the council. In a report dated April 16, Town Attorney Thomas Jex wrote, “Recent case law has called into question the constitutionality of blanket sex offender residency restrictions under Penal Code Section 3003.5(c) and local ordinances.”
To head off the possibility of the town having to pay Bellucci substantial legal fees, the council voted 5-to-0 to jettison the ordinance.
-Mark Gutglueck

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