The flamingo free speech message to the county CAO was wonderful. (Flock-u-pie, Times Standard Aug 25.) However, such displays are prohibited under the county’s time, place and manner restrictions on First Amendment rights. The urgency ordinance made it unlawful for any person to place personal property in front of the courthouse.
Under the proposed amendments personal property would not include free-standing signs or displays. That is if they are placed at least four feet apart and are attended by someone physically present within four feet of the object at all times. This display was left unattended.
Under the proposed amendments any person violating the codes shall be deemed guilty of an infraction. Mr. Bohn, please save the county the expense of citing and convicting you and pay the $100 fine.
Oh wait, the board asked law enforcement not to enforce the provisions related to freestanding displays. So perhaps the personally attended restrictions don’t apply yet.
However, the section prohibiting damage to courthouse grounds “in any manner, including anchoring any object into the earth” is in effect. And until the codes are repealed or amended, violations are still misdemeanors.
Finding the First Amendment restrictions in the health and safety codes isn’t a fun game. Shouldn’t we stop playing with our rights and end the urgency ordinance game? When this comes back from the Human Rights Commission I hope the board of supervisors remembers that reasonable has a very special meaning when discussing restricting free speech and peaceful assembly in a traditional public forum.
Thank you for your attention.