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Two supervisors oppose placement of sexually violent predator in Borrego Springs

Two San Diego County supervisors Friday protested the latest proposed placement of a sexually violent predator in the region.

A court hearing is scheduled for next week on whether Michael Joseph Martinez should be allowed to live in the desert community of Borrego Springs.

“We stand together united on this issue doing everything we can to protect our community from the danger of sexually violent predators,” San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said at a news conference Friday.

Martinez, 69, has been convicted of multiple sex crimes involving minors and was deemed a sexually violent predator in 2009. He is a diagnosed pedophile with a personality disorder, according to the San Diego County District Attorney’s office.

Both Fletcher and Supervisor Jim Desmond believe that the county should have a say in where sexual predators are placed.

“No one wants to live anywhere near a sexually violent predator,” Desmond said. “And today the county does not have a say in the placement process and I believe we should also have veto power.”

Last October, supervisors voted unanimously to oppose placements until reforms with the state system are made. Fletcher said he did not want sexually violent predators anywhere in the county, but would work to find the “least-bad” place.

“There’s never going to be an ideal place,” he said. “I think the best location I've seen is you can put a couple trailers in the parking lot of a state prison.”

Desmond said he had not received a response from the state about reforming the sexual predator placement program. The California Department of State Hospitals (DSH) oversees the process and recommends housing. A spokesperson told KPBS that the agency is following the law.

“Ultimately, it is up to the court to determine placement of an SVPs into community locations as a part of the Conditional Release Program,” the DSH spokesperson wrote in an emailed statement. “Changes in the process require changes in the law.”

Desmond said Borrego Springs residents planned to show up in force to voice their opposition at next Friday’s court hearing on Martinez’s placement.

“I don't believe anyone can adequately monitor and secure someone in a community this far from resources,” Desmond said.

Martinez is currently housed at Coalinga State Hospital awaiting his placement hearing. It is a psychiatric hospital for sexual predators.

If Martinez’s placement in Borrego Springs is approved, he will be under outpatient supervision, which can range from GPS monitoring to unannounced searches or face-to-face visits.