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Rackauckas wants Huntington Beach to ban sex offenders from recreational sites

The Orange County district attorney will appear before the City Council on Monday. Last week, he urged Irvine to enact a similar ban modeled on a county law.

May 15, 2011|By Alexandra Baird, Los Angeles Times
  • Tony Rackauckas, Orange County district attorney, says the proposed ordinance will "give the police a tool to be able to keep sex offenders out of parks."
Tony Rackauckas, Orange County district attorney, says the proposed ordinance… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)

Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas will appear before the Huntington Beach City Council on Monday to urge adoption of a municipal ordinance that would ban sex offenders from visiting city recreational sites.

Last week, Rackauckas visited Irvine and urged the City Council there to enact a similar ban that would be modeled on a county law. Irvine Councilman Jeff Lalloway introduced such a proposal at Tuesday's session, saying it would ban sex offenders from city parks and playgrounds. However, Mayor Pro Tem Beth Krom and Councilman Larry Agran said they had questions that needed to be answered first.

The council voted unanimously on a motion for city staff to draft an ordinance and bring it back for further discussion and a vote within 45 days.

"The questions that I think need to be answered are whether … existing tools that public safety has are inadequate," Krom said Friday. "There are questions that get raised in association with any type of restriction with respect to people's rights under the law."

Krom gave the example of a 20-year-old who was convicted of statutory rape for having consensual sex with a 17-year-old. Krom questioned whether the ban was appropriate for such people.

Lalloway said that exemptions in a city ordinance could address such concerns.

"Protecting the children of Irvine and my two little girls is extremely important to me," Lalloway said. "I don't believe this statute goes too far in doing that."

On April 5, the Board of Supervisors unanimously passed an ordinance that requires registered sex offenders to obtain written permission from the Sheriff's Department before visiting county recreational areas, defined as places where children routinely gather.

The ordinance went into effect May 5 and covers county parks as well as places such as the Orange County Zoo and Newport Harbor.

Rackauckas attended Tuesday's Irvine council meeting, where he said that the new ordinance addresses a "gap in the law."

"We have heard complaints from time to time about people hanging out in parks, sitting at a bench watching the kids, and nobody knows who they are," Rackauckas said. "The only way to do something is to give the police a tool to be able to keep sex offenders out of parks."

Irvine Police Chief David L. Maggard Jr. said the city has 45 registered sex offenders.

Of those, four are on parole and have ankle bracelets, and seven are on probation.

Maggard also said that in the last three years, there has been one sex offender-related arrest in a city park and one recorded situation that did not lead to an arrest.

Lalloway said that any measure that might prevent registered sex offenders from gaining access to children is worth implementing. He said the district attorney's urgency made him "sit up and take notice."

alexandra.baird@latimes.com

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