The Lampasas City Council has voted final approval of a new ordinance greatly limiting where registered sex offenders can live in the city and creating what they call ” child safety zones” within the city.
The ordinance makes it unlawful for persons required to register on the Texas Department of Public Safety Sex Offender Database to live within 1000 feet of property where children assemble or meet.
It also makes it unlawful to provide residential housing to certain predatory sex offenders in prohibited areas, requiring as a defense evidence that a background check had been conducted if questions are raised.
The ordinance noted that after reviewing evidence and statistical reports that repeat offenses by released offenders is, as the ordinance termed “alarmingly high” and that because of a child’s innate vulnerability, the council felt compelled to take a protective role.
The ordinance defines “premises where children commonly meet, gather and assemble” as places such as schools, day-care facilities, playgrounds, public or private youth centers, video arcade facilities, public parks, privately and publicly owned recreational facilities, pools, child water play areas, skate parks, skate rinks, public or private buildings for civic or cultural activities for youth, libraries, hike and bike trails that children younger than 17 frequent, or youth athletic fields where an entrance, admission or rental fee is charged.
It also specifically says a registered sex offender involoving a victim or intended victim was younger than 17 years of age cannot have outside lights on or seasonal decorations or sound effects on Halloween.
With regard to public parks, if the offender had a victim younger than 17 who desire to enter the park must submit a written request for permission to do so and can’t go into the park without express written permission from the chief of police.
The ordinance says the police department will maintain a map showing the child safety zones.
With regard to a residence, the ordinance does allow for a person who might be affected to remain in a home occupied when the ordinance was put in place.
An appeal process and an exemption process is allowed for in the ordinance for certain hardship conditions but would require a public hearing before being granted.