An admitted sex offender who is not on parole is suing the city of Commerce, alleging its local regulations regarding where registrants can temporarily or permanently live in the city are so restrictive that he cannot find any affordable housing in the community.
The plaintiff is identified only as John Doe in the Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit filed Monday. He is asking a judge to find that the law interferes with state law and is unconstitutional because it denies him due process and equal protection.
The plaintiff is required to register as a sex offender under state law.
“The … Commerce ordinance excludes registrants from residing in most single-family housing in the city, as well as virtually all multi-family housing in the city,” the suit states.
A representative for the city did not immediately return a call for comment.
The median monthly rent for an apartment in Commerce is about $1,040, while affordable housing for registrants is considered to be about $850 a month, the suit states.
“The City of Commerce residency restrictions effectively banish registrants from all affordable housing …,” the suit states.
A city ordinance states that a registered sex offender “shall be prohibited from becoming a permanent or temporary resident in any residential exclusion zone,” according to the suit.
The local measure defines a residential exclusion zone as any area located within 2,000 feet from a child care center, public or private school, park or library, according to the suit.
In addition, registrants cannot live in the same single-family home or apartment-type unit if another registrant lives in the same location, unless the two are related by blood, the suit states.
Most registrants are likely to live in apartments rather than single-family homes and the local restriction on how many offenders can live in one apartment building sharply limits the number of places offenders can reside, the suit states.
In addition, a registered sex offender is banned from temporaritly renting or occupying any single-family dwelling or any unit in a multi-family dwelling, according to the suit.”
“This ban on short-term visits applies to registrants regardless of whether the dwelling falls within a residential exclusion zone or to properties where no other registrant resides,” the suit states. “Plaintiff is therefore effectively prohibited from either temporarily or permanently residing in the City of Commerce due to the city’s residency restrictions.”
The suit further argues that the 2,000-foot limitation is unreasonable.
“There is no rational basis that supports 2,000 feet as a distance that increases the safety of children,” according to the suit.