Earlier this year, a federal district court in Washington granted the City of Port Orchard’s motion for summary judgment with respect to alleged violations of the First Amendment rights of Engley Diversified, Inc., a billboard company. Engley sought damages under federal and state law for what it alleged were wrongful denials of billboard permits by the city.
The case, which has a lengthy and twisted procedural history, stems from the submission of six permit applications by Engley to the city in 2010. Engley sought to construct three billboards in the city. The city’s code enforcement officer denied the permits, interpreting the sign code as prohibiting them. Engley appealed to the city’s hearing officer. During the pendency of the appeal, the city council enacted an ordinance prohibiting all off-premises advertising billboards throughout the city. The city’s hearing examiner subsequently denied the appeal on the merits, finding that the code enforcement officer’s interpretation of the sign code was not clearly erroneous. In December 2010, Engley appealed to the city council, Continue Reading City’s Denial of Billboard Permits Does Not Violate First Amendment: Federal Court