An admitted sex offender who is not on parole settled his lawsuit Thursday against the city of Commerce in which he alleged local residency restrictions on sex registrants prevent him from finding affordable housing.
The plaintiff was identified only as John Doe in the Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit filed April 22.
He sought a court finding that the local law interferes with state law and that it is unconstitutional because it denies him due process and equal protection, but the settlement papers filed Sept. 30 by Doe’s attorney, Janice M. Bellucci, with Judge Michael Linfield do not divulge the terms. Bellucci filed a request for dismissal of the case Oct. 29.
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 stated.
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 stated.
“The City of Commerce residency restrictions effectively banish registrants from all affordable housing…,” the suit stated.
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 of 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 stated.
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 stated.
In addition, a registered sex offender is banned from temporarily 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 stated. “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.
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