Mobile Billboard Ban Upheld

Laws in five California cities that regulate mobile billboards were upheld by a federal appeals court Thursday in the face of First Amendment challenges.

One ordinance restricted the types of signs that may be placed on motor vehicles left parked on public streets and the others banned non-motorized “mobile billboards” within the cities.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allowed the restrictions as reasonable, content-neutral, time, place and manner restrictions.

Between 2010 and 2012, the state legislature allowed local governments to regulate mobile billboards, which the state lawmakers found to “blight city streets and endanger residents.”

The four cities identified by the court with almost identical bans include Los Angeles, Santa Clarita, Rancho Cucamonga and Loma Linda. The opinion did not identify the fifth city.

The law was challenged by Lone Star Security & Video Inc, which operates a fleet of standalone trailers specially built to display signs and banners advertising Lone Star security services and political causes.

Companies challenging the laws are “free to disseminate their messages through myriad other channels, such as stationary billboards, bus benches, flyers, newspapers or handbills,” wrote Judge Mary Murguia.

Judge John Owens wrote separately to say that while he agreed with the majority opinion, as it follows current controlling law, he suggested the U.S. Supreme Court take a second look at its 1984 precedent. He questioned whether “aesthetics” are to play a part in speech restriction as the 1984 opinion suggests.

Case: Lone Star Sec. & Video v. City of Los Angeles, No. 14-55014


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