Rules would govern Calif. parolee homes

Newly released state prisoners convicted of nonviolent, nonserious and nonsexual crimes will be monitored by local authorities

By Jeff Horseman
The Press Enterprise

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Riverside County supervisors are being asked to OK development of new zoning rules for parolee/probationer homes — less than two years after banning them in unincorporated areas.

The Board of Supervisors will take up the request from county staff at its meeting at 9 a.m. today at the County Administrative Center, 4080 Lemon St., Riverside.

The board in July 2010 passed an emergency ordinance outlawing parolee/probationer homes, defined as "any residential building" renting to two or more unrelated parolees or probationers. State-licensed residential care facilities with six or fewer parolees were exempt.

The ban, which accompanied new restrictions on sex offenders, came amid public furor over the prospect of a child rapist and killer being released to a Perris-area group home. Donald Schmidt eventually was turned away from the facility.

The moratorium was extended and is now set to expire July 25. State law prohibits further extensions.

While supervisors could pass a new moratorium, officials say a total ban isn't a good idea because of realignment, the process of shifting low-level offenders from state prisons and parole officers to county jails and local parole officers.

Newly released state prisoners convicted of nonviolent, nonserious and nonsexual crimes will be monitored by local authorities. In February, the county's chief probation officer said the county expects to oversee more than 2,100 parolees by June 30.

Given realignment, the county should "adopt permanent zoning provisions and development standards to address parolee-probationer homes long-term," read a county staff report.

The report recommended a collaboration involving the Sheriff's Department, probation, planning, the district attorney's office and other departments in crafting the regulations.

Those wanting to start a parolee/probationer home would need a conditional use permit. Property owners within 1,000 feet of the proposed home would have to be notified, the report read. Other suggested rules include:

Homes couldn't be within 1,000 feet of a school, day care, park or other places where children gather.

A minimum distance between homes.

A 180-day limit on individual stays.

Supervisor Jeff Stone said he wants to make sure the proper protections are in place before the county allows parolee/probationer homes. He supports requiring conditional use permits to better control where the homes can be located.

The report estimated it would cost about $24,300 in staff time to research and create the regulations. Supervisors would have the final say on what rules are enacted.

Copyright 2012 The Press Enterprise, Inc.

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