By ALIA MALIK
SAN ANTONIO - A city ordinance banning registered sex offenders from parks and part of the River Walk goes into effect Saturday.
The ordinance prohibits registered sex offenders from entering a city park, living 1,000 feet from a park or loitering within 300 feet of a park. Current residents are “grandfathered in” and are not being asked to relocate.
The lower level of the River Walk between Lexington Avenue and South Alamo Street is included in the ban.
Texas law allows judges and parole boards to impose similar restrictions on offenders that are on parole or probation. State law, however, does not give judges or parole boards the same authority once the offender is off parole or probation.
San Antonio's ordinance would apply to registered sex offenders after their probation and parole restrictions have expired.
Violating the ordinance is a misdemeanor with a fine of up to $500 per offense.
Sex offenders are exempted if they were minors when the offense was committed, or if a court of pre-eminent jurisdiction or parole board issues an order permitting the person to enter the zone. The chief of police can also grant special exemptions.
Golf courses, cemeteries and official meeting or polling places located in parks are not included in the ban.
Police Chief William McManus has said the new law will make parks safer.
City Council adopted the law in December over the objections of some, who cited studies showing such restrictions do not improve safety.