Fountain Valley Mayor John Collins called for the immediate drafting of an ordinance that would ban registered sex offenders from the city's parks Tuesday following a study session with Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas.
"When someone abuses children, there's no remedy for that," Collins said. "These people should be put on an island somewhere."
There are 38 registered sex offenders living in Fountain Valley. Orange County already has am ordinance in place banning registered sex offenders from county parks, which covers Fountain Valley's largest park, Mile Square Park. Several cities around the county have followed suit, something Rackauckas said his office encourages.
"As a county, we don't want to be chasing people from the county parks to the city parks," he said.
The creation of the county's ordinance stemmed from a recent case in which a parolee and registered sex offender inherited a home from his parents that was directly across from a park in Fullerton. At the time, there were laws prohibiting such offenders from living within close proximity of a school, but nothing on the books regarding parks.
The county's ordinance provides for registered sex offenders to apply for permission to enter parks at the Sheriff's discretion, but, Rackauckas said, cities are free to deal with that as they see fit. Huntington Beach's ban is absolute because, Rackauckas said, the chief of police there didn't want the responsibility of having to decide who should be granted an exception. Cities could also provide their chiefs of police with a set of guidelines based on the offender's crime and how long it's been since it was committed, he said.
Council member Mark McCurdy asked Rackauckas about potential legal challenges to a sex offender park ban, and Rackauckas cited a case in which Hugo Godinez, arrested in Mile Square Park just three days after being told not to enter any county parks, is appealing his 100-day prison sentence. The ordinance itself is also being challenged, but, he said, he's confident in its legality because, among other factor, there's no constitutional right to enter a park.
Council member Michael Vo expressed concern that a sex offender park ban might create a false sense of security for parents, but Rackauckas explained that such a ban is really more of a tool that parents and law enforcement can use to keep parks safe.