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Councilman Asks for Sex Offender Ban

Lake Forest City Councilman Scott Voigts requests that the council look at adopting an ordinance that would make it a misdemeanor for registered sex offenders to be in the city's parks.

Lake Forest is the latest in a growing number of Orange County cities to explore banning registered sex offenders from parks.

A new ordinance applicable in the county's unincorporated areas and implemented in May made it a misdemeanor for registered sex offenders to enter recreational areas where children regularly gather without permission from the sheriff's department.

Violations of the new law are punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a $500 fine. The new law, however, does not apply to city-owned parks.

So on Tuesday, Lake Forest City Councilman Scott Voigts requested that the council consider putting a similar ordinance on Lake Forest's books.

"I think that as a city it would be wise for us to look into this," he told his colleagues.

He listed other Orange County cities that have recently pursued such ordinances, including neighboring Mission Viejo, which on Monday asked its city attorney to draft an ordinance similar to the Orange County law.

"There's some serious legal questions [about] those ordinances," Mayor Peter Herzog warned, but the council nevertheless agreed to place it on an upcoming agenda for discussion.

No further discussion about introducing such an ordinance in Lake Forest took place at Tuesday's meeting.

The cities of Westminster, La Habra and Los Alamitos have enacted city ordinances similar to that implemented by the county; Irvine implemented a partial ban in June.

ChildSafetyZone.org October 20, 2011 at 05:44 AM
Thank you for being a leader, Scott! Here is a petition in support of this ordinance. Please visit the website for more infomation or how this can be a useful tool for law enforcement. http://www.change.org/petitions/pass-the-child-safety-zone-ordinance-in-all-oc-cities-in-full
KC October 20, 2011 at 07:24 AM
I was just doing a look up on the state's "Stop and Identify" laws, and interestingly enough, stuff like these laws would make it near impossible for the police to compel people to present their ID for verification. The people who propse these laws really should listen to their legal council, I know it looks great on paper but it won't stand up in a court.
Lake Forest Citizen Paying Attention October 20, 2011 at 06:31 PM
KC - In most cases where this ordinance is being enforced will be one of two scenarios: 1) The registered sex offender is known and recognized by the police, and 2) A concerned parent will call the police because of someone acting suspiciously at a city park and provide a description of the person to the police. Either way, the police will have probable cause to detain the person for questioning and that will allow them to verify identity. An added benefit of this ordinance is that it also provides police and prosecutors with an additional tool to ensure that those who would harm our children stay in jail and off the streets for longer periods of time. Finally, when Scott Voights proposed this law he simply asked that it be put on the agenda for discussion. That discussion hasn't happened yet, and the professional legal opinion of the city attorney would come out during such discussions.
KC October 20, 2011 at 07:47 PM
But, arguably, unless they have some very distinct physical features, there would be no reasonable way to verify the person. It was brought up previously that there are 1,900 people on the registry in OC, the expectation that the police would be able to recognize them swiftly seems unreasonable. Even then, what defines suspicious (since our crime calls are filled with calls that pan out to nothing)? I expect, if the law is passed, mothers to call 911 constantly whenever they see a lone man walking in the park. I know it's not under discussion by the city yet, but they have shown they are no more capable than the average citizen when it comes to these matters.
Lake Forest Citizen Paying Attention October 20, 2011 at 08:12 PM
I guess I just don't understand why anyone would be opposed to this ordinance. The only people it affects negatively are registered sex offenders. I'm pretty sure that if registered sex offenders are mad at me that I must be doing something right. As for listening to advice of legal counsel, not only am I a licensed attorney, this ordinance was originally drafted by attorneys in the DA's office and has been reviewed and signed off on by city attorneys in several OC cities already. I would think that we could give the "average citizens" on City Council a break for being foolish enough to rely on the fact that that all of those licensed professionals have already vetted the ordinance. Perhaps those who aren't lawyers should leave the business of arguing legality to those who are.
KC October 20, 2011 at 08:36 PM
It's not so much the group that is the problem with the ordinance, it's somewhat un-american in it's nature. You're talking about taking a public space, and changing the law so that citizens who were legally allowed in are no longer allowed in without a note (if mirroring the MV proposal). On top of that, it is toothless since the punishment is $500, no arrest, and even then you would need to compel them to present ID. It's not like they run about with big neon signs. Also, they can still do all that across the street from a park and there would be no recourse. Also, this looks like a knee-jerk reaction to isolated incidents combined with quantity over quality politics rather than anything logical. Simply take a justifiably disliked group, bring up "it's for the children" and you have a blanket yes vote. You're not solving any problems, and then if a serious problem does happen (such as a kidnapping) the people will ask "why didn't this protect us?" Arguably, the biggest threat in the parks haven't been sex offenders but rather people who bury sharp objects in the sand at playgrounds, such as Lori Elizabeth Fischer.
Paul Smith October 21, 2011 at 01:01 PM
It won't stand in a true court of American law. These cases will start piling and wasting more tax dollars (which we don't have) on something that would not have even saved the life of Amber Dubois or Chelsea King. It will only serve as more punishment, added after the fact, upon a class of people who already served their sentences, which is clearly an ex post fact o violation. There, I said it without using profanity.
Robert Curtis November 19, 2011 at 05:59 AM
It's amazing how low this society has come. Hitler would be proud. He used the excuse of protecting the children as well. At the council meeting there wasn't one opposing view. That in itself is scary! Why are these citizens that have done their time, probation and therapy so afraid to protect their rights? IF there had been a surge in crime I'd understand, but our police, DA and probation departments have been doing a great job. Trust these professionals. Their systems have been working wonderfully. Plus people don't know this but the Sheriff's dept. already restricts all registered sex offenders from Lake Forest CITY parks and county parks. How could I know so much? Well, I'm an RSO (misdemeanor not involving a child). That was over 12 yrs ago. I last month received a US Congressional award for community service and I completed the Lake Forest Leadership Academy. I have been even featured in this publication and many others for community service and on TV for an outreach for battered women and help cancer patients and featured in many magazine! Not what you'd expect from a registered sex offender! Hey, it's truthfully due in great part to these systems that got me right. I'm humbled and honored to serve any where people need me. As a RSO it is my belief that I should be twice the citizen and not hide like everyone else! Change is the only constant in life. People seem to forget that sometimes and yes even RSO's can change for good (if give the chance).
Robert Curtis November 19, 2011 at 06:16 AM
There is a few other things. I'm a dad and yes I feel I should be able to go to the parks with my children. Why? 6 weeks ago my son Daniel saved a 4 year old boy's life from drowning at the lagoon in Irvine. The Irvine PD gave my son a metal for it. Yes, I'm a proud dad, but I remembered that I had saved my older son's life twice. Once as a baby from choking and then at 5 from drowning (I was THERE). If that had happened to my son and because of some ordinance I was disallowed. Well, lets just say I would own Orange County and Lake Forest. I'm a parent and as such protection of my child is my JOB! That trumps any ordinance! Argue that!
Lake Forest Citizen Paying Attention November 19, 2011 at 06:39 AM
Robert - I am happy for you that you have turned things around and are doing such wonderful things for the community. You have every right to be proud of the things you have accomplished. In response to your comments, however, I see two main things that you seem to be missing. 1) You say that we need to trust our DA and Sheriff's Dept. -- Are you aware that the DA drafted this ordinance and the Sheriff's Dept. supports it fully? The DA is so concerned about this that he sent a Deputy DA to the LF Council meeting to plead the case of needing to pass it. I do trust them, and they tell me they need this. 2) Your what ifs regarding your parental rights trumping the ban -- the law would not agree but you also wouldn't have to worry about that because if you are on the RSO list because of a misdemeanor that was not child related, it is highly unlikely that you would be a Section 290 offender. The ordinance is very specific in its language and does not create a blanket ban of all RSOs. The ban only applies to those who have violated Section 290 of the Cal Penal Code. Section 290 violations are acts such as sodomy of a child, forced sodomy of any victim, rape, oral copulation involving a minor or forced oral copulation of any victim, etc... Hopefully this puts some of your concerns to rest.
Robert Curtis March 22, 2012 at 09:24 PM
Charles you are greatly misinformed as to what constitutes a 290 registrant. Many low level registrant aren't on the public registry but on a police registry. Penal code 290 is an all encompassing registering law. It includes all offenses and yes that makes it to include me and my family. There are not history of Registrants attacking anyone in Orange County parks so this is a punitive measure that is a violation of Constitutional laws Natural law and Spiritual law. It violates my rights as a parent to be with my child in a public place and it violates my son's rights to be able to be with his parent in a public place. I have saved my son's life twice because I was there next time I would be disallowed that right. This is fundamentally wrong! It doesn't take a law degree to see that simple fact!

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