|For Immediate Release
March 16, 2011
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
ORANGE COUNTY PROPOSES NEW LAW TO KEEP REGISTERED SEX OFFENDERS OUT OF
PARKS AND PLAYGROUNDS
SANTA ANA – Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas and Supervisor Shawn Nelson (Fourth District) have announced a proposal for a new County Ordinance to create a child safety zone to further protect children from registered sex offenders. The Ordinance makes it a misdemeanor for registered sex offenders to enter County recreational areas where children regularly gather.
“I applaud Supervisor Nelson for taking this step to help protect the children of Orange County,” stated District Attorney Rackauckas. “Registered sex offenders should not have the right to go into parks and places where children gather. Parks do not belong to sexual deviants. Parks belong to children who want to play there and parents who want to enjoy nature with their children.”
“Parents and children should expect that county parks are free from sexual predators. This ordinance gives our law enforcement personnel the tools they need to keep our parks free from threats,” stated Supervisor Nelson. “I’ve worked closely with our District Attorney to craft this ordinance designed to ensure the safety of our children.”
The Board of Supervisors Agenda, posted today, gives notice of the reading of the Ordinance title to be set on March 22, 2011 (Agenda item #11-000474). On that date, the entire Board of Supervisors will consider the matter and place the Ordinance on the Agenda of the next regularly scheduled Board meeting for adoption. The next Board of Supervisors meeting will take place on April 4, 2011.
California Penal Code sections 290, et seq. require 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.
Orange County offers regional recreational facilities, including historical and natural resources, as part of OC Community Resources and OC Dana Point Harbor. Nearly 60,000 acres of parkland and open space include regional and wilderness parks, nature preserves, recreational trails, historic sites, harbors, and beaches where children regularly gather. Typical amenities in these areas include picnic and barbecue facilities, campgrounds, maintained hiking trails, playgrounds, and various learning centers where families regularly visit. Accordingly, Orange County regional recreational facilities have been identified as areas where children regularly gather. The proposed ordinance seeks to protect children by restricting registered sex offenders’ access to these locations.
For purposes of this Ordinance, an Orange County Park is defined as any county-owned, leased, operated or maintained land before or after the effective date of this Ordinance by the County of Orange held as a harbor, beach, park or recreation area, including but not limited to Arroyo Trabuco Park, Carbon Canyon Regional Park, Clark Regional Park, Craig Regional Park, Featherly Regional Park, Irvine Regional Park, Laguna Niguel Regional Park, Mason Regional Park, Mile Square Regional Park, O’Neill Regional Park, Orange County Zoo, Peters Canyon Regional Park, Santiago Regional Park, Harriett M. Wieder Regional Park, Yorba Park, Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, Caspers Wilderness Park, Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, Thomas F. Riley Wilderness Park, Talbert Nature Preserve, Aliso Beach Park, Capistrano Beach Park, Newport Harbor, Salt Creek Beach Park, Sunset Beach Park, Dana Point Harbor, and Sunset Harbour.
Violators could be punished with up to six months in jail and/or a $500 fine.