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City to Discuss Banning Sex Offenders from RSM Parks

City Council will confer with a deputy district attorney. A similar county ordinance was adopted unanimously by Orange County Board of Supervisors.

Rancho Santa Margarita's proposed budget for 2011-12 will get a lot of attention at the Wednesday City Council meeting, but some new business being discussed will almost certainly be the most interesting of the night.

Brian Fitzpatrick, a senior deputy district attorney for Orange County, will speak before the council about sex offenders and city parks.

At the request of councilman Steve Baric, a former deputy D.A., the city is considering an ordinance to create a "child safety zone" in city parks and to do so by banning registered sex offenders from such sites.

"Any tools you can give law enforcement to combat sex offenders is important," Baric said. "As it relates to the city, we're lucky in that we've been very safe, but the recent show that no matter how safe we are, we still have scary people in our midst and we have to look at ways to limit access to our kids."

The plan is to enact restrictions similar to the county ordinance proposed by county District Attorney Tony Rackauckas and 4th District Supervisor Shawn Nelson; the county ordinance was passed unanimously by the board of supervisors April 5.

The ordinance makes it a misdemeanor for registered sex offenders to enter county recreational areas—parks, harbors, beaches and playgrounds—where children gather regularly.

Baric said that he broached the subject with city attorney Greg Simonian in December.

"When I was in the gang unit at the D.A.'s office, we had gang injunctions," said Baric, who left the office in 2007 after about 10 years. "I was there when we first started implementing those. That's what spawned the idea in my head—is there something similar to that that we can apply to sex offenders? Then the county started with their ordinance and that's how I ended up with the proposal that I made."

The council will also discuss and perhaps award a contract to RBF Consulting Inc. for project management services in preparation of a feasibility study for the development of the 92-acre Chiquita Ridge property that will eventually include a sports park.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at .

Kel8856 June 08, 2011 at 05:05 AM
I am thrilled about this and intend to to go this meeting. As a resident of Lake Forest, I am in the process of trying to get this ordinance passed here as well. Recently, a sex offender was in one of our local parks in Lake Forest with a camera taking pictures. He was identified as an offender on the Megan's Law website - convicted for Child Pornography. When reported, the officers noted that if this law was in place as it is for county parks, they could do more. Instead, he is free to return to any city park and take pictures of children. The debate on whether this infringes their rights after they have been released is ridiculous. There is already a precedent set that changes their rights after convictions - you cant own a gun, vote, must disclose it on a job application, etc. This is no different and our children should come first. PERIOD! The thought process that most offenders are people you know does not negate the fact that there ARE registered sex offenders out there doing bad things. Yes, most of the time the offender knows their victim. But there are still victims in the other category that should not be forgotten. These people cannot be rehabilitated and should never get out of jail, in my opinion. They definitely should not be in my park looking at or taking pictures of my children.

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