Councilman: Jacksonville Sexual Predator Distance Requirement Limiting Business

Sep 22, 2017

The Jacksonville City Council will soon consider a bill that would allow sexual predators to live closer to day care centers, schools, playgrounds, and parks. The bill’s sponsor, Councilman Bill Gulliford wants to reduce the boundary from 2,500 feet to 1,500 feet.

Gulliford said a couple of people in Jacksonville who’ve picked a spot for day care centers, can’t open them because they’re within 2,500 feet from where a sexual predator lives.

One proposed child care center in Mayport is about 100 feet inside the boundary.

“I think we’re caving to the predators. This is starting to inhibit people that want to start a business,” Gulliford said. “If you’ve got 300 and something predators that live in your city and you say that in essence, a mile circle surrounds them, boy that really limits business activity, doesn’t it?”

The city set the 2,500-feet rule in 2015, which Gulliford says well intentioned.

“We all want to see kids protected,” he said.

However, state law requires only a distance of 1,000 feet. Gulliford’s proposal is still greater than that by 500 feet.

Gulliford also pointed out the Mayport daycare in question would be a reopening of a closed child care center that was once grandfathered in. It was originally opened before the 2015 rule change.

Gulliford says he’s open to amendments and retooling of his bill. It’s set to be introduced next week.

Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at lkilbride@wjct.org, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at @lindskilbride.