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Thursday, August 18, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

Others intrigued by Issaquah's new law

Seattle Times Eastside bureau

Other cities in the region are considering limiting where registered sex offenders can live after the city of Issaquah passed a landmark ordinance this week doing that.

City officials in Tacoma, Redmond, Kenmore and Monroe yesterday said Issaquah's action has inspired them to study whether similar measures would work for their communities.

"Personally, the idea is intriguing," said Redmond City Councilman Richard Cole. "I believe we owe it to the citizens of Redmond to take a look at whether there are further restrictions we can apply to (sex offenders)."

Tacoma Mayor Bill Baarsma said he sent a copy of Issaquah's ordinance to the city's public safety committee "to see if it's something we can, in fact, do." In Edmonds, resident Jeremy Steiner started a petition drive to get his city to follow Issaquah's lead after a Level 2 sex offender moved to his neighborhood.

Issaquah's is the first city ordinance in the state to block all registered Level 2 and 3 sex offenders — including juveniles — from living within 1,000 feet of schools and day-care centers. It confines sex offenders to living on 15 percent of the city's developable land — mostly in office or commercial zones — and fines property owners $250 a day if they knowingly rent or lease housing to them in prohibited areas.

It was sparked by community opposition to two sex offenders — Kyle Lewis, Level 3, and John Weber, Level 2, who met in prison and moved in June to an apartment in the Squak Mountain neighborhood, which is filled with single-family homes. Level 2 and Level 3 sex offenders are considered to have a moderate and high risk, respectively, of reoffending.

Issaquah's ordinance exceeds a new state law that took effect last month which restricts offenders convicted of specific sex crimes against children — and who are still under supervision by the state Department of Corrections (DOC) — from living within 880 feet of school grounds.

"We weren't afraid to break new ground," said Issaquah Mayor Ava Frisinger. "But anything is subject to challenge."

The American Civil Liberties Union so far hasn't gotten involved. Lewis and Weber could not be reached for comment yesterday about their plans.

The state DOC offers sex offenders help in finding housing by sharing information on potential property that owners are willing to rent to them, said Linda Bonazza, DOC spokeswoman. These addresses are investigated by local corrections officers to make sure they comply with various terms of the offenders' sentencing — such as distance from schools — before they are approved. The DOC doesn't help sex offenders who aren't under its supervision, she said.

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Finding housing for sex offenders is critical for their rehabilitation, Bonazza added.

"If you don't have a residence, how can you even survive?" she said. "You need a home to find a job and develop prosocial activities."

Sonia Krishnan: 206-515-5546 or skrishnan@seattletimes.com

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