Saturday, August 1, 2015

Encinitas sued by ACLU for possible un-Constitutional free speech violation

Encinitas City Council and management have a long history of having difficulty understanding the First Amendment. In 2011, former City Manager Gus Vina, with former Council Member Jerome Stocks approval, illegally ordered a purge of images of late Council Member Maggie Houlihan from the DEMA's Arts Alive banners. The move was, as any first-year law student could tell you, a blatant violation of the First Amendment's protection of freedom of speech. One wonders where our high-priced city attorney Glenn Sabine was during the decision-making process and in the ensuing months before the city finally backed down the following April.

Then in 2014 the Council had to re-write its ill-conceived 2012 sign ordinance, which illegally censored political speech yet again.

Now that replacement sign ordinance is itself un-Constitutional, according to the local chapter of the ACLU. Union-Trib:
The local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against the city of Encinitas, arguing a municipal limit on yard signs violates the public’s right to free speech.

Encinitas’ sign ordinance — which restricts people from posting more than two temporary signs, except during election seasons — tramples on “the hallowed right of homeowners to speak out to their communities and neighbors,” according to the lawsuit.

“There’s no justification for this arbitrary and draconian cap,” said David Loy, legal director of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties.

The suit seeks to have the two-sign cap and any efforts to enforce it declared unconstitutional. It also seeks the recovery of attorneys’ fees and “such other relief as the court deems proper.”
This one is a closer call, because the new ordinance is content-neutral and courts have often allowed cities to regulate size and placement of signs so long as they don't censor based on content. Perhaps the novel issue is whether people can be restricted to expressing only two opinions at a time.

34 comments:

  1. They should change the ordinance to limit the total square footage of signage visible from the street. Say, 10 sq ft.

    You can have one big sign, a handful of medium ones, or many tiny ones.

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  2. The legal land mines placed by "staff" never end, do they? Sabine turned a blind eye to the 1st Amendment and taxpayers are now on the hook. Pruim turned a repeated blind eye to Rossini Creek runoff, putting taxpayers on the hook for $430K plus in State fines.

    Sabine is rewarded by somehow keeping his job. Same goes for Pruim, who was also bizarrely rewarded by sitting in the temporarily-vacant City Manager's seat at a recent Council meeting.

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    1. Sabine and Morrison charged us for this bogus Sign Ordinance that doesn't hold up. Add that on to the other $10 million that he was paid over 7 years.

      I keep hearing that Pruim is not on site except for a few hours per week. Is this the same reason that he had conflict with the CM in Carlsbad?

      It worries me greatly that these are the core team who are advising our council.

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    2. We should be more worried about what kind of council sees fit to keep and reward them. Such staff incompetence and deviousness should instead result in firings.

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    3. Council doesn't hire or fire. The City Manager does that, except for himself/herself, and the city attorney.

      What has hurt us the most about Vina's "governance" has been his cabinet, still intact, for the most part. Married head of human resources left for a safer govt. position, after rumored inappropriate dalliances with the head of planning.

      Sabine and Morrison, the "First Amendment Specialist, Pruim, Murphy and Rudloph have been nightmares for us, but Council is so unsure of its own expertise, it appears to back down, every time.

      Please new city manager; we need a shake-up, and we hope you can see this, despite Council's being in denial.

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  3. The ACLU is a bunch of commies! (See, I'm free to say that)...

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  4. It is the CA's job to keep Encnitas OUT of these situations, AGAIN he has FAILED the citizens of Encintias. He must GO.

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  5. The Encinitas sign ordinance was updated before the US Supreme Court's opinion in Reed v. Town of Gilbert, AZ where the court unanimously found that an ordinance that regulated signs distinguished by type (i.e. content) were on their face unconstitutional even though there was no attempt to regulate what the message on the sign actually said. The case revolved around a church's directional signs, as it often met at different locations and posted signs to help the congregation find it.

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  6. This sign ordinance was about giving a political advantage to particular candidates--Barth specifically, since she helped to quietly pass it. The sign ordinance that our CA wrote made existing rules MORE confusing, and has been found to be illegal, but who cares when Sabine and Morrison can charge taxpayers another five-figure fee for something that citizens didn't want and didn't need.

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    1. In 2014 when the sign ordinance was passed, Barth had already decided not to run for re-election, nor for mayor.

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    2. It was in the works for months before it passed. This was part of the long-term strategy. Not surprising that the ordinance was illegal. Anyone who read it saw that it made the rule more confusing.

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    3. Barth apologists decreasing in number every day. Don't be the last apologist standing, 1:38.

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    4. Barth is gone, get over it. Look forward, not backward, despite the fact there's not that much going on right now to hash over....

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    5. I'm happily over it...it's her handful of minions who keep trying to rewrite her history who need to move on.

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  7. Our council is in a race to lower the bar. There are many comments about how staff is manipulating the council. However, when you have at least one council member who thinks that this is the way it should be, is this what citizens think?

    Also, try to guess which council member fights tooth and nail to empower predatory staff members yet turns her back on her former supporters and other citizens?

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  8. Campaign signs = legal litter.

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  9. Sabine gets paid for mistakes left and right.

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    1. Sabine is the bilk master.

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  10. I wish they would do away with the sign ordinance forever. They look tacky in yards and especially every few feet on the main roads.

    I think people can pick who they want to vote for without sign influence.

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    1. So you think without a sign ordinance, there would be no signs?

      In the immortal words of Bugs Bunny:

      http://youtu.be/C_Kh7nLplWo

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    2. 3:21 Where did you read or assume that? Signs are nothing but trashy litter and people pay good money for things that don't look that great.

      Hope we won't have to see "MO" Muir's name for awhile. I hate that name. It reminds me of MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

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  11. Place your signs inside your front window, no regs against that.

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  12. Let's get rid of Realtors signs placed in the public right of way.

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  13. By all means let's allow anyone to post as many signs as they want because we all know that is the only way to reach people with your message. Forget the impact of affordable housing on neighborhood character, welcome to craptacular first amendment Encinitas.

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  14. Regulations be damned. The scoundrels will ignore them anyway. For example just recall last year when baird and his school bard members plastered their signs illegally, by the hundreds.

    For example, our former ASSistant city manager [and I do mean ass] Richard Murphy was out on the day before Prop A in the Orpheus Park neighborhood overseeing the placing of uncountable NO on A signs illegally on private property.

    For example, our despicable, former bully of a mayor and Mark Muir were caught on camera Illegally posting their signs to gain an advantage on prime locations.

    Regulations be damned until a justified penalty is ever pursued. Still waiting..........

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  15. Sabine is just speechless!

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  16. I keep hearing that Sabine cost the City 10 million in 7 years. Where did that number come from?

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    1. 9:03 Probably the shrink.

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    2. The number came through compiling the results of California Public Record Act requests, which CPRA requests are processed by and through the City Clerk.

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    3. She spent several hundred dollars and requested copies of all of his his invoices over 7 years. Note, we have no idea how much he has been charging us before that time.

      One of the things that she found from his invoice is that he never charges for a law clerk but charges full price for everything. Pretty good gig for a guy who has his office at home and also has an office at the city with car allowance and other benefits. This deal is the best of both worlds.

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    4. 7:28 Most lawyers charge for every penny and every phone call. Where have you been? If you are talking about the shrink, that was her decision to spend HER money. I guess she wasn't busy enough with clients. I still would like to know how many she hugs. It is supposed to be a hands off kind of job. Wink! Wink!

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    5. Citizen watchdogs who work for the benefit of all taxpayers use their own time and personal funds to shine light on waste and corruption at the the city. But for those who are willing to research and speak out, we would be in even worse shape. Council needs to wake up and represent voters.

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    6. Exactly what benefits are we paying for when we pay 10 million dollars? What is the record in terms of wins in court? This updated policy cost us when they rewrote it, and now we are paying again since we got sued. It looks to me like this policy has put us at least $50,000 in the hole and like they have to get rid of the work that we paid for.

      Who benefits from this? It isn't taxpayers and citizens.

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    7. 8:56 Council loves to spend our money. Remember, whatever decision is made comes from the fabulous five -- Bee lover, hot dog boy, Ms. talk too much, uninformed veggie girl, and princess wanna be.

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