— and out of their town, too!
Paula Mahan is Town Supervisor in Colonie, NY, the most populous municipality in the New York Capital Region (nestled between Albany and Schenectady). Supervisor Mahan has upped the sex offender NIMBY ante, and shown other politicians she won’t be outdone pandering to the public’s overblown fears of lurking strangers. Saying her Town has become a dumping ground for predators from other jurisdictions, she has proposed a new law that would, according to an article tonight in the Albany Times Union:
” . . bar adult Level 2 and 3 sex offenders whose victims were younger than 17 from living or staying within 1,500 feet of each other, or the same distance from [15 kinds of] places where children congregate.”
We’ve written often about the unnecessary, ineffective and un-American residency restrictions that communities have been placing on whole categories of sex offenders. See our recent post “don’t let a bad idea go statewide” (Feb. 2, 2009), which responds to a new, high-level proposal to have statewide 1000-foot no-residence zones for sex offenders, around schools, parks and day care centers. The Colonie SOLD approach [sex offender low-density nuisance zoning] almost makes the laws in other communities look thoughtful — and is an interesting counterpoint to those who want to herd sex offenders into little cluster ghettos. It clearly shows that Justice William Kelly was correct in Peo. v. Oberlander: Our State laws by necessity must pre-empt the additional efforts of localities, with their confusing, conflicting, and ever-escalating restrictions on where sex offenders can live (discussed in this post from Feb. 2, 2009).
According to the TU:
“But before having the Colonie Town Board vote on the new regulations, Supervisor Paula Mahan wants to assemble a task force to examine the issue and work off of her proposal.”
Stopping to think makes good sense. However, Mahan’s task force sounds suspiciously like the tactics of Susan Savage, Legislative Chair in Schenectady County, who appointed a commission to study sex offender safety issues, but clearly wanted them to start with her own extreme position and then add more restrictions and regulations. (see our prior post) Perhaps someone will suggest to Ms.Mahan that she read the Oberlander decision and check out proposals and solutions on the State level, before she convinces even the most conservative judges in the State that sex offender residency cannot be left to local politicians.
p.s. On the 6 o’clock news this evening, a reporter for WTEN in Albany said they checked out the state SO registry and 5 sex offenders were apparently living at one of the low-rent motels on Central Ave in Colonie. Go here for information from the Colonie Police Department on how to find out where sex offenders live in that Town, using the State’s sex offender search index.
Motel Update (Aug. 7, 2009): After considering various court cases declaring Sex Offender restrictions unlawful, Colonie gave up its original Low-Density Sex Offender proposal and came up with an even worse idea — restricting how many offenders can live at any one motel. See “Colonie limits how many sex offenders can live in motels” (Albany Times Union, Aug. 7, 2009; and see CBS6Albany). According to the TU, the law “will require hotels and motels that plan to house sex offenders to get a license” (costing $1500 or $3000) and then will use a point system to limit how many Sex Offenders may live at a particular motel (one to three points depending on the SO’s corresponding risk level designation, 1, 2 or 3). Even the largest motels will be allowed only 9 points worth of offenders — e.g., three Level 3s or nine Level 1s, or combinations thereof. It is hard to image that such a law could withstand the kind of state-preemption analysis that recently voided Albany County’s sex offender residency restrictions.
afterwords (Feb. 11, 2009): I woke up this morning thinking about ways enterprising persons could cash in on Colonie’s floating 1500-feet sex offender residency ban. A landlord in an area that didn’t have “its SO” yet, could hold an auction (or raffle off) an apartment or motel unit, or simply demand a much higher rent, knowing that both offenders and Social Service employees would pay a big premium to secure a residence in an attractive neighborhood (or, more likely, any neighborhood). Meanwhile, a sex offender leaving town might also earn a little travel money by selling off rights to (or information about) a prime location that was opening up.
update (Feb. 26, 2009): The town of East Rochester, NY, is only 1.3 miles long, but it has just passed a law banning sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of schools, playgrounds and parks, recreation and community centers and day care facilities. (see this report from WHEC.com/Ch.6)