|For Immediate Release
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
ORANGE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY APPLAUDS MISSION VIEJO FOR ADOPTING NEW LAW TO
KEEP REGISTERED SEX OFFENDERS OUT OF
CITY PARKS AND PLAYGROUNDS
SANTA ANA – The City of Mission Viejo enacted a law yesterday to create child safety zones to protect children from registered sex offenders in city parks and playgrounds. The Mission Viejo City Council voted unanimously Jan. 3, 2012, to pass the ordinance. The City Council includes Mayor Frank Ury, Mayor Pro Tem Rhonda Reardon, Council Members Patricia Kelley , Dave Leckness, and Cathy Schlicht. There will be a second reading of the Ordinance on Monday, Jan. 16, 2012, making it effective 30 days after that reading.
Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas was present at the City Council meeting to address public concerns and advocate for the passage of the ordinance.
“I am grateful to Mission Viejo for creating a law to protect the children of Orange County from dangerous sex offenders. Children and parents have the right to play in parks with the knowledge that predators are not allowed to be there,” stated District Attorney Rackauckas.
“I grew up in Mission Viejo and lived there from elementary school until I went away to college. It was a wonderful, safe city then, and this law will help to keep the children in the city safe,” said Chief of Staff Schroeder.
“As a strong supporter of public safety I want to commend OC DA Tony Rackauckas for taking a leadership role in creating a County Ordinance that protects children and all park users from potential harm from convicted sex offenders. Having over 35 parks in Mission Viejo I thank my council colleagues for their unanimous vote of support of my recommendation to create the child safety zone ordinance into Mission Viejo. Children’s rights are paramount over the rights of a convicted sexual predator. Sexual predators contend that they have been rehabilitated and have paid their debt to society, but that is no guarantee that they would not commit another act, and if someone has been convicted of child abuse, we do not want them near children,” said Council Member Cathy Schlicht.
“”I appreciate the leadership of District Attorney Tony Rackauckas in bringing this important safety measure to Orange County, and his follow-up in encouraging each city to follow suit. As an advocate for children for most of my life, I see this as a very important step for our City. Mission Viejo is a family-oriented city, with numerous parks and recreation centers, and I am confident that through this ordinance we have provided an extra measure of safety for our children as they enjoy our facilities,” added Council Member Trish Kelly.
California Penal Code sections 290, et seq. requires individuals convicted of certain crimes to register as sex offenders. The registration process is used to ensure that such offenders shall be readily available for police surveillance at all times because such offenders are deemed likely to commit similar offenses in the future.
The Mission Viejo City Ordinance was modeled after the County Ordinance, which was passed unanimously by the Orange County Board of Supervisors April 5, 2011, and took effect May 5, 2011, to create a child safety zone to further protect children from registered sex offenders in County parks and harbors. The County Ordinance was developed and proposed by District Attorney Rackauckas and Supervisor Shawn Nelson (Fourth District) and makes it a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a $500 fine, for registered sex offenders to enter County recreational areas where children regularly gather without permission from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD). The Mission Viejo City Ordinance is virtually the same as the County Ordinance.
After enacting the County Ordinance, District Attorney Rackauckas, Chairman of the Board Bill Campbell, and County Supervisors Nelson, Patricia Bates, and Janet Nguyen sent letters to each Orange County city encouraging them to consider a similar ordinance for their city parks. Mission Viejo is in the Fifth District represented by Supervisor Bates.
Since May 2011, the Cities of Huntington Beach, Laguna Hills, Lake Forest La Habra, Los Alamitos, Westminster, and Yorba Linda have enacted a City Ordinance modeled after the County Ordinance. The City of Irvine enacted a City Ordinance banning some sex offenders at city parks on June 14, 2011. Several other Orange County cities are considering ordinances at this time including Anaheim, Brea, Mission Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Juan Capistrano, and Seal Beach.
To read the full County Ordinance, please visit www.orangecountyda.com and select the April 5, 2011, press release entitled “Orange County Board of Supervisors Unanimously Votes to Adopt New Law to Keep Registered Sex Offenders Out of Parks, Harbors, Beaches and Playgrounds,” under Press Releases/Media Advisories.
The Mission Viejo City Ordinance is as follows:
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF MISSION VIEJO ADDING A NEW CHAPTER 11.23 OF TITLE 11 TO THE MISSION VIEJO MUNICIPAL CODE PROHIBITING REGISTERED SEX OFFENDERS FROM ENTERING CITY PARKS AND RECREATION FACILITIES.
THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF MISSION VIEJO DOES HEREBY ORDAIN AS FOLLOWS:
The City Council desires to ensure that the community, including all residents and visitors to the City of Mission Viejo’s renowned recreation facilities are safe. The Board of Supervisors and the District Attorney’s Office, each of the County of Orange, California, have requested that the City of Mission Viejo, by and through its City Council, adopt this Ordinance.