By Jeff Todd

BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – The City of Boulder is taking a step closer to restricting access of sexually violent predators and where they can live.

“We’re very happy we can move forward now,” said Jacky Jones who lives in north Boulder. “We just can’t have criminals coming straight out of prison without rehabilitation planted right in the center of where these young families are trying to have a great life.”

Boulder City Council (credit: CBS)

The Boulder City Council on Tuesday approved a process toward a possible ordinance that would restrict where a sex offender can live. The issues came to the city after a rash of outrage with Christopher Lawyer’s case.

Lawyer was arrested in 2000 for kidnapping and raping a newspaper delivery driver. Lawyer was released to his mother’s house but then banned after violating probation and being voted out by a Homeowner’s Association. Lawyer then tried to live several other places and eventually was released to the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless in north Boulder.

(credit: CBS)

“We’re all fearful and when you live in Boulder, Colorado, you want to get outside and be active. I now carry mace everywhere I go,” Jones said.

Advocates say ordinances, such as distance restrictions for schools and parks, at best don’t work and at worst actually prohibit rehabilitation. Some studies show restrictions against sex offenders force them into hiding, making them more dangerous. Others say the recidivism rate for sex offenders is low.

Residents in north Boulder say Lawyer is different and the state event labeled him a sexually violent predator, meaning it’s likely he will reoffend.

The City of Boulder is now going to study the issue and bring possible solutions to the City Council in August.

Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he’s been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.