Council upholds residency restrictions for sex offenders

SAN DIEGO — A divided City Council voted to keep an ordinance restricting where registered sex offenders can live in San Diego, which could expose the city to a lawsuit.

According to City Attorney Mara Elliott, the city’s Child Protection Act hasn’t been enforced since 2009.

“That’s because there are substantial concerns over the legality of the ordinance,” Elliott told the council members.

The act prohibits registered sex offenders convicted after April 13, 2008, from residing within 2,000 feet of an amusement center, arcade, child day care facility, library, playground, park or school.

According to Elliott, 97 percent of registered sex offenders in the area can’t find a place to live because of the restrictions. A similar state law was struck down by the California Supreme Court in a case arising from San Diego County.

Numerous cities around the state have rescinded their restrictions and at least 40 municipalities have been sued, she said.

The issue came down to “protecting our kids versus the threat of a lawsuit,” Councilwoman Lorie Zapf said.

Only four of the nine council members voted to repeal the act.