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Irvine may ban sex offenders from parks

May 10, 2011 |  7:45 am

The Great Park in Irvine is one of the parks that would ban sex offenders if the city approves the ordinance.

The Irvine City Council is considering a ban to prevent sex offenders from entering city parks, an action that mimics a law passed by the Orange County Board of Supervisors last month.

The Orange County ordinance, passed April 5, bans registered sex offenders from entering county parks without written permission from Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens. Violators could be punished with up to six months in jail or a $500 fine.

Critics said the law, introduced by Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas and Supervisor Shawn Nelson, could be politically motivated and difficult to enforce. Sheriff's spokesman John McDonald said he was unaware of any arrests stemming from the law.

"Protection of children to me is not a political issue," said Jeffrey Lalloway, the Irvine City Council member who wrote a memo April 27 urging the ordinance.

On April 15, Rackauckas and Nelson sent a letter to the Irvine City Council urging a similar ordinance, because the county law does not cover city parks. Similar letters were sent to each mayor and city council not covered by the county ordinance.

"The law's purpose and intent is clear: to protect children from registered sex offenders by restricting sex offenders' access to locations where children regularly gather," the letter states.

Lalloway said he hoped the Irvine ordinance would cover all 18 of the city's community parks, plus the Orange County Great Park, but added that there could be exceptions.

"This is not a blanket prohibition," he said. "There are situations where people might have jobs working in parks."

Originally, the Sheriff's Department said the law would be enforced on a "case by case" basis.

But last week, Hutchens sent a letter to the Board of Supervisors stating that she does not "foresee any circumstance under which I would grant permission for registered sex offenders to enter county parks."


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Photo: The Great Park in Irvine is one of the parks that would ban sex offenders if the city approves the ordinance. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times