Registered sex offenders will be banned from county-owned parks, harbors and beaches under a law that won final approval Tuesday from the Orange County Board of Supervisors.
The measure doesn't affect city-owned parkland.
Scheduled to take effect in 30 days, the new law makes it a misdemeanor for registered sex offenders to set foot in county-operated recreational areas frequented by children. Violators face up to six months in jail and/or a $500 fine.
California law bars serious sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of parks. It also restricts them from visiting parks, but only while they are on parole. The county law would extend the restriction on park visits indefinitely and to all registered sex offenders.
Waivers can be made in certain circumstances--such as a sex offender who wants to attend an outdoor wedding, or a county employee with a past sex offense who needs to enter parks for job duties. But such exceptions require written permission from the county sheriff, a clause that was added after .
(The criteria for granting waivers will be determined later by the Sheriff's Department and county attorneys, officials said.)
Jeffrey McBride of Laguna Beach argued against the measure, saying it overzealously punished registered offenders who pose no threat to minors instead of zeroing in on predators. The vast majority of child abuse cases are committed by family members at home, he noted. County Supervisor Shawn Nelson quickly pointed out that McBride is a registered sex offender for possession of obscene material depicting child sex.
Erin Runnion, whose 5-year-old daughter, Samantha, was kidnapped, sexually assaulted and murdered by a man who had been acquitted of previous molestation charges, endorsed the law, telling the board, "It will make your children safer."
The measure passed on a unanimous vote.
The new law covers nearly 60,000 acres of county-owned parks, nature preserves, recreational trails, historic sites, harbors and beaches, including: Arroyo Trabuco Park, Irvine Regional Park, Laguna Niguel Regional Park, Mason Regional Park, Mile Square Regional Park, O'Neill Regional Park, the Orange County Zoo, Peters Canyon Regional Park, Santiago Regional Park, Harriett M. Wieder Regional Park, Aliso and Wood Canyons Wilderness Park, Caspers Wilderness Park, Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, Thomas F. Riley Wilderness Park, Talbert Nature Preserve, Aliso Beach Park, Capistrano Beach Park, Newport Harbor, Salt Creek Beach Park, Sunset Beach Park, Dana Point Harbor, Whiting Ranch and Sunset Harbour.
-- City News Service contributed to this report.