Costa Mesa repeals its sex-offender ban

The Costa Mesa City Council on Tuesday night agreed to repeal an ordinance that banned registered sex offenders from city parks without law enforcement permission.

The council's unanimous vote comes after state appellate court rulings against similar ordinances adopted by the Irvine City Council and Orange County Board of Supervisors. Costa Mesa is facing its own lawsuit, John Doe vs. City of Costa Mesa, filed in 2012.

The Orange County district attorney's office has supported a ban and may be appealing the court decisions to the state Supreme Court, according to city staff.

The John Doe suit also targeted Huntington Beach, Seal Beach and Lake Forest and their police chiefs, as well as Costa Mesa's chief, Tom Gazsi, and county Sheriff Sandra Hutchens.

Costa Mesa's ordinance, approved in 2012, also banned sex offenders from city sports facilities.


Vandalism reward

The council unanimously approved giving rewards for people who provide information that helps fight vandalism.

Under the addition, persons providing information that leads to the arrest and conviction of vandals can receive up to $2,000. City staff contended that the rewards will encourage residents to assist police in the effort to combat acts of vandalism, which can be costly to fix.

The reward structure duplicates one for reporting graffiti.


Senior Center

Mayor Jim Righeimer on Tuesday said that, despite rumors to the contrary, the Costa Mesa Senior Center will not close and the city is not attempting to take it over.

The West 19th Street facility, while receiving about $775,000 worth of city funds and in-kind services each year, is an independent nonprofit agency.

"It's never going to close," Righeimer said. "It's not going to shut down. It's going to continue to be open."

A city-commissioned audit released in January said the facility is heading for a "fiscal crisis" and will run out of its general fund money by June. The audit also issued a series of recommendations, some of which senior center officials later contended were already in place.

On Tuesday morning, the center's board voted to ask for $160,000 from a memorial foundation to help with the budget. Some during the meeting were against the idea, arguing that the foundation should be going toward senior center activities, not aiding the dwindling general fund.

City officials, including CEO Tom Hatch and Councilwoman Wendy Leece, have been meeting with senior center staff within the past few weeks on coming up with solutions.

—Daily Pilot staff writer Hannah Fry also contributed to this report.

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