Sex offenders are prohibited from handing out candy or displaying Halloween decorations during trick-or-treating hours under a plan approved Tuesday by Riverside County officials.
"If you're a sexual predator, Riverside County is not going to be friendly toward you," according to Jeff Stone, Riverside County Supervisor. "It's a very hostile county when it comes to sexual predators."
The proposal, a revision to the county's anti-loitering law that would place additional restrictions on registered sex offenders in unincorporated communities, was approved by a 5-0 vote at the county board's Tuesday meeting.
Registered sex offenders will not be allowed to display Halloween decorations on Oct. 31, and exterior or ornamental lights would need to be turned off between 5 p.m. and 11:59 p.m. on Halloween. The measure, which went into effect immediately, also makes it illegal for a convicted sex offender to answer the door when trick-or-treaters visit.
"If these people can't decorate their houses, if they can't turn on their lights, then the children aren't going to stop," said resident Cynthia Ferry. "It's just an effort on their part to help us help our children."
The board directed county officials to notify registrants of the measure.
"I hope that in our haste to get this on the books that it's enforceable,'' board chairman Bob Buster said.
The proposal is part of a larger anti-loitering ordinance approved last year. The ordinance makes it a misdemeanor for a sex offender to to be within 300 feet of a day care center, library, park, playground, public swimming pool, school or anywhere else that provides "classes or group activities for children."
Sex offender registrants also cannot reside within 2,000 feet of a school, park or other facility catering to kids, according to the ordinance.
Violators face fines of $1,000 or more and six months in jail.
California law requires anyone convicted of a felony sex offense to register with a local law enforcement agency when moving into an area. The law also requires that registrants alert authorities whenever they change residence, and that they annually renew their registration.
About 3,500 registered sex offenders reside in Riverside County, according to the Megan's Law sex offender database. Many of them live in municipalities not under county jurisdiction.