July 22, 2016

First Amendment success in California (and it didn't even require a lawsuit)

By Caleb R. Trotter Attorney

All too often, cities fail to respect the First Amendment and pass a-frame-signunconstitutional laws that restrict people’s ability to advertise with signs. For recent examples, see here and here. But occasionally, cities can do the right thing. I’m happy to report that this week, Roseville, California did the right thing and enacted an ordinance that frees businesses to use temporary A-frame signs—a simple, yet affordable and effective means of advertising. 

Roseville previously banned A-frame signs, but in the Fall of 2010, the City Council received feedback from local small businesses that the economic downturn was negatively impacting business, and a change in local law to allow A-frame signs would help boost sales. Responding to that suggestion, in September, 2011, Roseville enacted a temporary ordinance that allowed for use of A-frame signs for one year.

The ordinance was a success for businesses, and as a result, the City Council renewed it twice. The second renewal period ended in October, 2015, and the City Council began discussions to enact a new, permanent ordinance in late Spring, 2016. On July 20, 2016, those discussions culminated with approval of the permanent ordinance which will take affect in August. I applaud the Roseville City Council for recognizing the needs of local small businesses, and for respecting the First Amendment.

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