The city of Los Angeles is trying a new tactic to force registered sex offenders from neighborhoods. It involves building small parks in neighborhoods with high concentrations of registered sex offenders. Janet Kwak reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Mar. 1, 2013.
The city of Los Angeles is trying a new tactic to force registered sex offenders out of neighborhoods: three small parks will be built in the Harbor Gateway and Wilmington areas.
Officials say since state law bars registered sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a park or school, offenders who live near the new parks will be forced to move.
The first new park is being built in the Harbor Gateway area in a neighborhood that has one of the city's highest concentrations of registered sex offenders – more than 80 reportedly live within blocks of the planned park.
An empty lot in Wilmington will soon turn into an athletic field. Nearby, a tiny park will grow between a row of homes. And in Harbor Gateway, a grassy street corner about the size of a small backyard will house two jungle gyms.
"They do have rights, their constitutional rights, but our children have the rights to be safe as well," said Cristina Garcia, parent.
Councilman Joe Buscaino helped come up with the idea to break up the concentration of sex offenders.
He said it's a problem he saw firsthand while spending 15 years as a Harbor area police officer.
"What we found in Harbor Gateway is, you have 33 registered sex offenders living in one apartment complex in one block," Buscaino said.
"Is this what we want in our community? Absolutely not."
The parks are expected to be completed by fall. They're estimated to cost a few million dollars, with taxpayers footing most of the bill.