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1st Amendment lawsuit against city faces ruling

9th Circuit Court of Appeals expected to rule in First Amendment case concerning mobile billboards

Posted: November 1, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: November 1, 2012 2:00 a.m.
 

A lawsuit against the city of Santa Clarita will soon face a ruling from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Bruce Boyer, president of the San Fernando-based alarm company Lone Star Security and Video Inc., claims in the lawsuit that the city infringed upon his First Amendment rights when the Santa Clarita City Council passed an ordinance banning businesses from parking mobile billboards within city limits.

“This is an ongoing violation of everyone’s free speech,” Boyer said.

Boyer is seeking a court injunction to try and lift the mobile advertising ban. His request was already denied by a U.S. District Court in July. In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright II said Boyer’s claims that the ban unfairly limited his speech were invalid.

The City Council approved a ban on mobile billboard advertising in April 2011 after residents complained about the number of such advertisements on city streets.

The city’s ban mirrors similar measures passed in Los Angeles, Rancho Cucamonga and Loma Linda, all of which Boyer has also filed suit against.

Under provisions of Santa Clarita’s mobile billboard ban, vehicles that are not in compliance can be impounded and business owners who violate the ban face fines and jail time.

The city defines a mobile billboard as “an advertising display that is attached to a wheeled, mobile, non-motorized vehicle, that carries, pulls, or transports a sign or billboard, and is for the primary purpose of advertising,” according to the Santa Clarita Municipal Code.

Similar definitions of a mobile billboard exist in the California Vehicle Code, according to Santa Clarita City Attorney Joe Montes.

Montes said he did not know how much the lawsuit had cost the city in legal fees, but that any fees would be paid by the city’s insurance company, the Special Districts Risk Management Authority.

Boyer said he expects a judgment by the end of the year.

lmoney@the-signal.com

661-287-5525

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