Huntington Beach bans sex offenders from parks

Huntington Beach has voted to forbid registered sex offenders from entering city parks.

The City Council vote Monday makes the law even more stringent than Orange County’s ordinance that bans registered sex offenders in county parks, the Huntington Beach Independent reported.

Huntington Beach Mayor Joe Carchio and Councilman Matthew Harper asked the City Council in May to consider adopting an ordinance similar to the one approved by the county in April.

The county’s ordinance gives the Orange County Sheriff’s Department the discretion to issue permits for registered sex offenders to temporarily enter county parks on a case-by-case basis.

Huntington Beach’s ordinance, which takes effect in 30 days, does not have any room for flexibility.

It would bar parents who are registered sex offenders from entering city parks with their children, regardless of their type of violation or how long it had been since they committed the offense.It also would prohibit employees or contractors who work in city parks and are registered sex offenders from entering city parks, even for work purposes.

Offenders would be charged with a misdemeanor punishable by up to $1,000 in fines and six months in jail.

The law could limit constitutional rights and opens the door for lawsuits, said City Atty. Jennifer McGrath.

McGrath and Police Chief Ken Small opposed the ordinance and suggested that exceptions be made for parents and park employees, or apply only to violent sex offenders.

The Orange County Register reported Laguna Hills will vote on its own version of a sex offender ban Tuesday.

Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas and county supervisors had asked cities to consider their own bans after the county passed its ordinance.