A proposal that would prohibit registered sex offenders from setting foot in city parks is on its way to being drafted into a potential ordinance and presented to the city council.
“What we want to make sure is to eliminate the temptation of a sex offender to be in a park where children gather and we also make it easier for police to remove an offender if they find one,” said District 10 Councilman Carlton Soules, who drafted the proposal.
It would create a “child safety zone” around all 250 city parks and roughly 40 miles of creek trails.
"In essence, a situation where we prohibit registered sex offenders from entering the parks or living within 1,000 feet of a city park,” Soules said.
He said all five members of the city council's Public Safety Committee support the proposal, which came as a result of a presentation by SAPD Chief William McManus concerning sexual predators in city parks.
The proposal does include exemptions for anyone required to register as a sex offender for an offense they committed as a minor, anyone who already lives within 1,000 feet of a park prior to the potential passing of an ordinance, anyone who has state permission to be within the proposed ‘child safety zone’ or anyone granted exemption by a local court.
Soules hoped to present the drafted ordinance to the full council for a vote by the end of the year.
He said the cost of implementing the new restrictions “would be minor” and is considering requiring sex offenders who register with local authorities to pay a fine to offset that cost.
Soules also asked for a review the sex offender registry process and all associated costs.