The city of Bastrop now has restrictions on where registered sex offenders can live and go following approval from Bastrop City Council June 25.

Two-minute impact

Bastrop Police Chief Vicky Steffanic said she proposed Ordinance No. 2024-20 to establish the city’s first set of prohibitions on registered sex offenders. After hearing Steffanic’s recommendation, council members questioned why the city needed to impose the ordinance.

“We just don’t have one,” Steffanic said, explaining that after the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 1111 in 2017, cities like Bastrop were given the power to impose and enforce restrictions on where registered sex offenders can live and congregate; however, it had not yet been done.

“I had no idea this was not already in place,” said Place 2 council member Cynthia Meyer. “I think citizens assumed—and I assumed—that this was already in place.”

The details

Under the ordinance, registered sex offenders are not allowed to live or attend an event within 1,000 feet of what is called a “child safety zone,” which includes city parks, recreation centers, schools, daycares and more.

They can still go to restaurants or attend church within those areas, Steffanic said.

Additionally, registered sex offenders cannot leave their porch lights on during Halloween festivities.

Steffanic said the ordinance has a grandfather clause, meaning any registered sex offender already living within 1,000 feet of a child-safety zone will not have to move; their attendance to events where children might attend will still be restricted.

When the registered sex offender moves, the residential ordinance will apply.

Steffanic explained that registered sex offenders can also receive exemptions on a case-by-case basis for a variety of reasons.

Though the number of registered sex offenders in the city and county is in constant fluctuation, Steffanic said as of June 25, the city had 18 and the county had more than 300.

“Of the 18 [registered sex offenders in the city of Bastrop], 16 are child sex offenders and most of them are lifetime registrations—meaning they are repeat offenders and, in some cases, have been convicted more than once,” Steffanic said.

One more thing

City Attorney Alan Bojorquez said during the meeting that “this is probably the least-restrictive way to go about implementing an ordinance like this,” adding that there are cities that have applied broader restrictions.

Steffanic said that many of the cities with broader restrictions were “essentially banning registered sex offenders from their cities altogether,” and were written prior to HB 1111.