Repeal is an effort to stop litigation regarding residency restrictions
■ By Rusty Strait / Senior Reporter
The Hemet City Council met in regular session on Tuesday, August 8 and voted unanimously to repeal Chapter 90, Article X, Division 3 of Hemet Municipal Code regarding sex offender residency restrictions and to adopt an urgency ordinance, Ordinance Bill No. 17-048, repealing the city’s sex offender residency restrictions.
Previously the city had followed Megan’s Law. However, in March 2015, the California Supreme Court decision in “In re William Taylor, et al,” held that the Proposition 83 (Jessica’s Law) residency restrictions are unconstitutional as applied in San Diego County, and the California Department of Correction and Rehabilitation (CDCR) announced that it will stop enforcing Proposition 83 residency restrictions throughout the state.
The problem was that citizen’s rights were being violated. Hemet contract City Attorney Eric Vail laid out the facts that the current law, and thus the city’s municipal code, denied a citizen’s rights and was subjecting the city to possible civil litigation, and thus unconstitutional.
It was discussed that such enforcement limiting where a registered sex offender lived was unconstitutional and not only that, according to Vail, such restrictions made for a worse situation because an offender unable to find living quarters often became difficult to keep track of, and that the current ordinance was not needed.
“Eric Vail did a great job of explaining unenforceable laws,” stated Chief of Police David Brown, sitting in as acting city manager after the unexpected resignation of Alex Meyerhoff.
A citizen spoke, declaring that, “Hemet, per capita, has the highest rate of registered sex offenders in the entire United States.”
Chief Brown replied, “Hemet’s high rate of sex offenders is not a welcome situation.”
He further said that Hemet has a large number of senior citizens who are registered sex offenders for life, and that their offenses were mostly many years ago. However, he assured the assemblage that “there is an aggressive probation/parole program that assures compliance with the law.”
The repeal passed unanimously on a 4-0 vote. Mayor Pro Tem Michael Perciful was out of town for the meeting.
Hemet is already facing at least one civil litigation in this area and there may be others out there, which is likely the reason for the repeal of the ordinance. This is what is known as killing the weeds before they take over the lawn. Just sayin’.