August 5, 2015

Challenging Oakland's public art mandate on Courting Liberty

By Challenging Oakland's public art mandate on Courting Liberty

PLF has filed a lawsuit to challenge the City of Oakland’s ordinance that requires developers of commercial and residential projects to fund public art works. In this week’s Courting Liberty, PLF Senior Staff Attorney Tony Francois discusses the ordinance and PLF’s federal lawsuit that was filed July 23 on behalf of the Building Industry Association of the Bay Area.

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PLF’s challenge argues that Oakland is violating constitutional protections for property rights and free speech — and unjustly raising costs for home buyers and businesses — by forcing builders of homes and commercial projects to fund art works that have no reasonable connection to any public needs created by their building projects.

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Building Industry Association Bay Area v. City of Oakland

An Oakland city ordinance requires anyone building a new residential or commercial project to either create a government-approved display of art or subsidize artists to create a display elsewhere in town. PLF represents the Building Industry Association of the Bay Area in a lawsuit challenging this law as violating the constitutional prohibition on taking money as a permit condition to fund government projects that are not directly related to the construction for which the permit is sought. Moreover, the law violates the First Amendment by forcing property owners and developers to engage in expressive activity.

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