California Supreme Court Overturns Sex Offender Residency Ban in San Diego County

Back in 2006 California voted for Proposition 83 known as Jessica’s Law, in an effort to protect children from registered sex offenders.   In a shocking turn of events last week, the California Supreme Court lifted residency restrictions in San Diego County that previously prohibited sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park.  What this means, is that registrants may be able to take a San Diego County residence near a school, park or any other place where children congregate.

The unanimous ruling determined that the “blanket” restriction was unconstitutional, as it limited sex offenders to housing and resulted in an uptick of homelessness as they became ineligible for 97 percent of available housing. While the decision is limited to San Diego County at the moment, property managers throughout California will have to watch closely, should the residency restriction expand throughout the state, especially in urban areas.

Justice Marvin Baxter wrote an opinion for the California Supreme Court and stated, “The residency restrictions place burdens on registered sex offender parolees that are disruptive in a way that hinder their treatment, jeopardizes their health and undercuts their ability to find and maintain employment, significantly undermining any effort at rehabilitation.”

Parole officers will have the ability to restrict where an offender may live in San Diego County based on the individual’s circumstances according to the court.

Jessica’s Law is named after Jessica Lunsford, a 9-year-old from Florida who was kidnapped and murdered in Florida, back in 2005. The legislation aims to safeguard communities by implementing increased restrictions and tougher punishments for registered sex offenders. While there needs to be a balance, allowing registered sex offenders access to the resources they need for rehabilitation, the intent of Jessica’s Law is really about protecting the community at-large.

In order to protect your residents and community, keep a watchful eye on what is happening with legislation and cases that could have a negative impact for your property. Watch for news reported by your local apartment association, and subscribe to our blog for the latest industry activity.

By: Laura Mowry