Last week, a federal district court in Nevada ruled on the City of Reno’s motion to dismiss several claims brought against it by a billboard company and landowner relating to the placement of off-premises billboards in the city.

The plaintiffs in the case are a billboard company called Strict Scrutiny Media (which perhaps implies the type of judicial review that the company wanted, but did not get, in this case) and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows Reno Lodge #14.  SSM obtained billboard leases at three sites owned by the Oddfellows, constructed signs on all three locations, and obtained permits for the construction of one of the signs.  In late 2016, the city informed SSM and Oddfellows that the permitted sign’s permit was invalid due to the fact that it was issued to a different sign operator, and also informed Oddfellows that two other signs that had been installed by SSM and Oddfellows were constructed without a permit in violation of the city’s code.  Oddfellows and SSM then challenged the city’s action, and also challenged the city’s ban on the erection of new, permanent off-premises signs and the city’s exemptions to permit requirements for certain temporary or permanent on-premises signs.

On the city’s motion to dismiss, the court ruled that SSM, as a leaseholder of the signs in question, had standing to challenge the city’s ban on new, permanent billboards, and that Oddfellows, as the property owner, had standing to challenge exceptions to the permitting requirements for certain signs.  The court then dismissed most of the plaintiffs’ claims, but allowed several First Amendment claims to move forward.  These include claims that the city’s ban on new billboards violates Central Hudson and that the city has content-based exceptions to permitting requirements for on-premises.  The claims dismissed included claims of unconstitutional vagueness and various claims that were either duplicative of the First Amendment claims above, or were assertions of claims for which the court did not provide leave to add.  The court also denied the plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction, which apparently failed to address all of the factors required on a motion for preliminary injunction.

Strict Scrutiny Media, Co. v. City of Reno, No. 3:16-CV-00734-MMD-WGC, slip op., 2017 WL 5505040 (D. Nev. Nov. 15, 2017).

Photo of Brian J. Connolly Brian J. Connolly

Brian Connolly represents public- and private-sector clients in matters relating to zoning, planning, development entitlements and other complex regulatory issues.  Brian’s practice encompasses a broad range of land use matters including zoning compliance, rezonings and other regulatory amendments, planned-unit developments, development agreements, private covenants and restrictions, land use and zoning litigation, initiatives and referenda associated with land use approvals, and real estate transactions.  Brian additionally specializes in the First Amendment and land use issues associated with outdoor sign and advertising regulation, and fair housing matters in local planning and zoning.