Housing rules change for sex offenders in Palm Beach County

UNINCORPORATED PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - The Palm Beach County Commission held a public hearing Tuesday on proposed changes to the county's ordinance covering where sexual offenders and sexual predators can live.

Currently Palm Beach County's ordinance is more restrictive than state law, according to the Palm Beach County Commission agenda.

MAP OF PALM BEACH COUNTY: Where schools are located and where sexual offenders live.

If you see red markers (sexual predators) or yellow markers (sex offenders) that appear to be within a thousand feet of green markers (schools) please send us an email with the school name and the sex offender name. Click here to email.

Currently Palm Beach County prohibits sexual offenders and sexual predators from living within 2,500 feet of where children regularly congregate like playgrounds, schools and day care centers.  Designated school bus stops are included in the county's current ordinance. 

Palm Beach County Commissioners say that they have to alter their ordinance to make it consistent with Florida law.

SEARCH FEATURE: Where sexual offenders are registered to live, according to FDLE 

The state has a 1,000 foot prohibition on sexual offenders and sexual predators and state law does not cover school bus stops.

Not far from Heritage Elementary School, a quiet streets sits that has been a longtime home to many neighbors.  It is part of unincorporated Palm Beach County.

Richard McCloud, Sr. says everybody knows the faces as they come and go. "This particular street here, we are real diligent about anybody this street."

Commissioners say that they have to amend their ordinance because they re not allowed by state law to be more restrictive than the prohibitions mandated by the state law.  Sex offenders will now be able to live closer to schools, playgrounds and day care centers making it easier for them to find a place to live.

Emanuel Alex has lived with his family in one of the homes for 16 years.  He says the situation makes him somewhat nervous.

"It just makes me kind of want to see a map with the demographics on housing and how hard it really is for them to find the housing, I guess,"

In areas that are not unincorporated, every municipality in the county has its own rules.  In West Palm Beach, for example, there is a 1500-foot radius in place. 

Richard Moller has lived about 1600 feet from Melaleuca Elementary School for more than 30 years.  It's a neighborhood with many children.

SEARCH: See the code for the municipality where you live, in any part of Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast

"Sex offenders should not be anywhere remotely near children of any kind, they just should not be," Moller said.

Now, residents say they must stay vigilant.

"It's better for them to make sure that the kids are well protected as the come toward the school."

The county says the change will officially kick in once the amendment is approved in Tallahassee.

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