Broward County

Fort Lauderdale may open more areas for sex offenders to live legally

Fort Lauderale has about 800 registered sex offenders, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which tracks sex offenders and predators. The houses and tents indicate places offenders live.
Fort Lauderale has about 800 registered sex offenders, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which tracks sex offenders and predators. The houses and tents indicate places offenders live. Florida Department of Law Enforcement

Fort Lauderdale is confronting a housing crisis of its own making. Its registered sex offenders can’t find anywhere to live, at least lawfully under the city’s incredibly restrictive rules.

The city’s own attorney, Alain Boileau, told commissioners that the city law was likely illegal, a pronouncement first reported by the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Two individuals have already challenged the law, and in one of their cases a Broward County judge ruled it unconstitutional.

The law makes it illegal for registered sex offenders, whose crimes involved children under 16, to live within 1,400 feet of a school, public school bus stop, child day-care facility and park/playground.

Boileau said this criteria is too strict and only allows offenders to live in less than 1% of the city.

On Tuesday, a revised version of the law, which Boileau drafted, had its first reading in front of the city commission. The commission approved its first reading, and a final vote is expected on June 18.

The revision would remove school bus stops from the prohibited list but keep intact the 1,400 feet barrier on other locations. This would make 15.4% of the city available to offenders, Boileau told the commission.

An alternative proposal is also on the table that would reduce the barrier limit from 1,400 to 1,000 feet. This change would make 31.2% of the city available to live in.

“At the end of the day we need some sort of increase in available residency to take us out of that window of being too restrictive of the laws I mentioned earlier [U.S. Constitution, Florida Constitution and state regulations],” Boileau told the commission.

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