"We clearly have a public safety interest in helping them with housing," said Bill Sessa, a spokesman for the corrections department. If parolees aren't in a stable living situation, he noted, they are much harder for parole agents to supervise.
The report says the cost of providing such housing help -- often in motels -- now runs $4,960 a month per offender in San Francisco and Alameda counties. If the department were required to cover housing for the 5,500 parolees now living somewhere that would be declared off limits by Proposition 83, the cost would be $132 million a year, the report said.
Runner acknowledged that the expense "isn't cheap," and said the question of who would pay remains unresolved. "My hope," he said, "is that with good planning, we will keep costs down."
In September, corrections officials sent all parolees required to register as sex offenders a notice informing them of the ballot initiative and the possibility that they may need to move. Michael McAssey, a graduate student at UC Davis, is off parole but preparing for the worst.
If a court determines that the initiative applies to ex-convicts, McAssey said, he would have to move because his apartment is 1,500 feet from a playground.
"My hope is that a court will find it unconstitutional and that will be the end of it," said McAssey, convicted in 1992 of lewd and lascivious conduct with two girls.