By Doug Keeler
Lawsuit alleges ordinance designed to keep sex offenders away from parks, other areas are unconstitutional
The City of Taft is being sued by a registered sex offender.
The suit was filed May 29 in federal court and alleges an ordinance passed in 2007 designed to keep sex offenders away from areas where children are likely to congregate is unconstitutional.
City Attorney Jason Epperson met with the Taft City Council in closed session to discuss the suit.
The suit is not unique.
The plaintiff in the suit is _____, a man convicted in 1979 of lewd and lascivious acts with a child under age 14. That conviction requires him to register as a sex offender.
Similar suits have been filed against other California cities, alleging that ordinances similar to the one in Taft violate the fifth and fourteenth amendments of the United States Constitution, the ex post facto clause of the constitution and the California Constitution.
The suits centers on city ordinance 8-13, which states, in part:
- It is unlawful for any registrant to reside within 2,000 ft. of any children's facility or child daycare center within the city.
- It is unlawful for any registrant to loiter within 300 ft. of any children's facility or child day care center within the city.
The suit, filed by Arroyo Grande attorney Janice Bellucci, doesn't seek cash damages (it does seek attorney fees and other costs) but asks the court to order the city to stop enforcing the ordinance and declare the ordinance “null and void.”
Chief of Police Ed Whiting said that he doesn't believe the ordinance has ever been enforced and has no knowledge of it being enforced against the defendant.
Bellucci is associated with a group called California Reform Sex Offender Laws.
Taft isn't alone in being sued on behalf of Lindsay, a Grover city resident.
Lompoc was sued in April and Pomona was sued in April just to name a few.