The City of Sierra Madre has agreed to stop enforcement of its sex offender ordinance, which prohibited all registered sex offenders, from residing in most of the city and from being present in child safety zones that included the city’s schools, parks and public library. The Sierra Madre City Council approved this action on December 10 after being sued in federal district court by one of the city’s four registered citizens. The legal challenge was based upon allegations that the city ordinance violated the 1st, 5th and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.
“This is a significant victory for all registered citizens within the state of California,” stated attorney Janice Bellucci, who represented the registered citizen. “It restores the civil rights of registered citizens who live within the City of Sierra Madre as well as those who wish to visit that city.”
According to terms of the settlement agreement, the ultimate fate of the city ordinance will depend upon a future ruling by the California Supreme Court in the case In re Taylor, That case is expected to decide whether residency restrictions are constitutional and, if so, if their application is limited to registered citizens on parole. The Supreme Court granted review of this case in December 2012.
“This settlement agreement is a good model for other cities, who have enacted residency restrictions, to follow,” stated Bellucci. “It protects such cities from future lawsuits until the state Supreme Court decides this important matter.”
In addition to stopping enforcement of its ordinance, the City of Sierra Madre agreed to pay attorneys fees and costs in exchange for a dismissal of the case.