Broward News

Fearless Prediction: Hollywood Will Soon Bring Anti-Sex-Offender Ordinance

To piggyback on a Fred Grimm column in the Herald and a Smashed Frog blog post -- as well as the article that started it all, in our sister paper -- I'll venture a prediction that recent concerns about draconian laws regulating sex offenders will have the opposite effect on municipal policymaking. Let's make Hollywood a test case.

A recently released task force report found that Hollywood was among just four cities in Broward County that had not gone beyond state regulations in making boundaries that would make it virtually impossible for sex offenders to live there. Which means that the city is either too cool-headed to give in to the hysteria that gripped other cities. Or that none of its political leaders knew there was such an easy opportunity to pander to voters' darkest fears.

My experience in covering Hollywood politics tells me it's the latter. If Hollywood hasn't already drafted an ordinance that increases the state-mandated boundary, you can bet one is in the offing, especially as city residents pop their city's name and "sex offender" into Google and find pages like this one, which show that as recently as 2007, the city was home to 186 sex offenders.

Granted, Broward County is considering legislation that would enforce the 2,500-foot rule countywide, which theoretically would save Hollywood the trouble of bringing its own legislation. But resident hysteria may spread faster than that legislation can move, and you can bet a Hollywood commissioner is tempted to become champion of the paranoid.

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Thomas Francis