Monday, March 17, 2008

Report: Calif. turns apartment building into 'sex offender cluster'

Despite state laws that are supposed to limit the number of unrelated sex offenders living under the same roof, the Los Angeles Times says an apartment building in Long Beach, Calif., has been converted into a home for as many as 19 registered sex offenders.

The paper says outraged neighbors are describing the 12-unit building as "the predator house."

"A female neighbor carries a baseball bat at night for protection. Many families have added extra deadbolts to their doors," the paper says. "At least one couple has moved out of the downtown neighborhood of palm-shaded apartments and condominiums less than two blocks from the beach. Children no longer play outside without parental supervision."

The state pays landlords about $1,500 a month for each parolee. The paper says that's about $500 more than the going rate for an apartment in the building.

"I hate it. I want them out. I'm afraid to go out and get the mail. They've ruined our neighborhood," Jane Szabo says. "As soon as we found out about this, seven of us printed brochures and color photographs of the gentlemen and then went door to door in the rain to alert neighbors."

The Press-Telegram says city officials are considering a new ordinance that would restrict where registered sex offenders are allowed to live.

As of this afternoon, state records showed that 10 registered sex offenders -- mostly rapists and child molesters -- lived in the building.

This isn't a unique situation.

The Times recounts another instance in which state officials warehoused 47 recently released sex offenders in the same East Los Angeles building.

"As soon as we became aware that there was a high school nearby, district administrators were instructed to relocate the parolees," Gordon Hinkle, a spokesman for the parole board, tells the paper.

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