Panhandling & Solicitation

Webcast— Special Topics in Planning and the First Amendment: Signs, Adult Businesses, Religious Land Uses, and More

December 14, 2017

1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. EDT

CM | 1.50 | Law

CLE 1.50 through Illinois State Bar

The Planning and Law Division of the American Planning Association is pleased to host the upcoming webcast Special Topics in Planning and the First Amendment: Signs, Adult Businesses, Religious Land Uses, and More on December 14 from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. EDT. Registration for individuals is $20 for PLD members and $45 for nonmembers. Registration for two or more people at one computer is $140.

Planning and zoning in areas involving rights protected under the First Amendment, including the rights to free speech and freedom of religion, can be tricky. This webinar will review several areas in which planners interact with the First Amendment, including in the areas of signs, religious land uses, adult businesses, and even some other interesting areas such as the regulation of gun shops, tattoo parlors, public monuments, and other topics. Presenters will poll the audience at the beginning of the webinar to determine specific topics in which attendees are interested, and will tailor the presentation to attendees’ interests.

Speakers include Daniel Bolin of Ancel Glink, Brian Connolly of Otten Johnson Robinson Neff & Ragonetti, P.C., and Evan Seeman of Robinson & Cole LLP.

Register here

The plaza in front of Pinnacle Bank Arena. Source: University of Nebraska.

Last week, a federal appeals court upheld an order granting summary judgment to the City of Lincoln, Nebraska in a case involving a prohibition on leafleting activity outside of the city’s basketball arena.  In the decision, the court determined that the plaza outside of the arena was a nonpublic forum, and that the city’s regulation met the basic requirement of reasonableness for regulations of speech in a nonpublic forum.

In 2010, Lincoln and the University of Nebraska created a joint agency to redevelop a portion of the city and to construct a new athletic arena for the university’s sports teams.  In connection with the redevelopment, new pedestrian areas were constructed, including a plaza immediately outside of the arena.  The city entered into a private management agreement allowing a concessionaire to manage and operate the arena and surrounding property.  After the arena opened in 2013, the concessionaire, SMG, adopted a policy establishing the plaza outside of the arena as a nonpublic forum, and specifically reserved use of the plaza for tenants of the arena.  Other pedestrian areas outside of the plaza were designated for public uses. Continue Reading Eighth Circuit Upholds Lincoln, Nebraska Anti-Leaflet Policy

Day laborers in Oyster Bay. Source: New York Times.

On Tuesday, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Town of Oyster Bay, New York’s prohibition on motor vehicle solicitation of employment violated the First Amendment.  The appellate court’s ruling affirms an earlier district court ruling that found similarly.  The plaintiffs in the case were two groups that advocate for the interests of day laborers.

Oyster Bay enacted an ordinance in 2009 that read, in relevant part, “It shall be unlawful for any person standing within or adjacent to any public right-of-way within the Town of Oyster Bay to stop or attempt to stop any motor vehicle utilizing said public right-of-way for the purpose of soliciting employment of any kind from the occupants of said motor vehicle.”  Oyster Bay’s ordinance was ostensibly an effort to curb day laborer solicitation. Continue Reading Second Circuit Affirms District Court Injunction Against Oyster Bay Solicitation Ordinance

We are pleased to announce the publication of a new book, Local Government, Land Use, and the First Amendment: Protecting Free Speech and Expression.  The book is published by ABA Publishing, and was edited by the editor of Rocky Mountain Sign Law, Brian Connolly.  Twelve authors contributed to the book, which contains chapters on everything from signs, religious land uses, adult businesses, the public forum doctrine, and government speech.

More about the new book is available from ABA:

This book is an re-mastered, retooled version of the ABA publication “Protecting Free Speech and Expression: The First Amendment and Land Use Law” which was published by the ABA.

The book contains some theoretical discussion of First Amendment law as it pertains to land use issues (e.g. sign and billboard regulation, regulation of artwork and aesthetics, regulation of religious land uses, regulation of adult businesses, etc.), but also provides information which will be relevant to practitioners, and will include some regulatory strategies and case studies. In order to strategically illustrate their points, the authors included cases as source material.

The book is available for purchase from ABA and will also be available on Amazon.

A homeless individual’s sign in Slidell, Lousiana. Source: WWLTV.com.

This week, a federal district court in Louisiana granted a motion for summary judgment invalidating the City of Slidell’s law requiring panhandlers to register and wear identification before soliciting donations.  In a lengthy but thorough order, the court found the city’s law, which applied only to individuals seeking to solicit donations of money or services, content based and unconstitutional, and issued a permanent injunction against enforcement of the law.

The backstory of Slidell’s “panhandler ID” law starts in 2015.  Since then, the city received 70 complaints relating to panhandling and solicitation, but only 14 were “connected to an identifiable individual.”  Because of the difficulty of tracking down panhandlers who were violating city laws, the city council passed an ordinance containing certain registration and identification requirements.  Specifically, the ordinance required individuals to complete an application at least 48 hours prior to panhandling.  To complete the application, a person was to physically appear at the police department between 9:00 and 5:00 on a weekday, fill out the written application (which required listing an address, telephone number, email, and other identifying information), and show a photo identification.  After a group of indigent individuals sued the city over the law, the city removed the 48-hour waiting period and required issuance of a permit for up to 72 hours of panhandling following filing of a complete application.  The 72-hour permit can be extended for up to a year on certain conditions. Continue Reading Louisiana Town’s “Panhandler ID” Law Struck Down

Late last month, a federal district court in Louisiana upheld the City of Shreveport’s ban on door-to-door commercial solicitation, finding that the ban was supported by a substantial governmental interest in community safety, and further finding that the ban directly advanced the government’s interest.  The plaintiff, Vivint Louisiana, LLC, is a maker and seller of residential home security systems that markets primarily through door-to-door solicitation.  Claiming that it was unable to conduct its business in Shreveport, Vivint sued the city.  The court found that the case was governed by Central Hudson, and that the city’s prohibition on solicitation should be reviewed as a restriction on commercial—as opposed to noncommercial—speech.  The court’s treatment of the ban as a commercial speech regulation was based entirely on the language of the ban, which prohibited solicitation “for the purpose of soliciting orders for the sale of goods, wares and merchandise, or for the purpose of disposing of or peddling or hawking such goods, wares and merchandise.”

Vivint Louisiana, LLC v. City of Shreveport, slip op., No. 15-0821, 2016 WL 5723983 (W.D. La. Sep. 30, 2016).

Last Friday, a federal district court in Florida found that the City of Tampa’s restriction on requests for donation or payment—aimed at preventing panhandling and solicitation on city streets—violated the First Amendment.  The court’s decision follows on several other decisions around the country that have invalidated bans on solicitation of donations on the grounds that such bans are not content neutral. Continue Reading Tampa Panhandling Ban Found Unconstitutional

The American Bar Association Sections of State and Local Government and Civil Rights and Social Justice are teaming up for a webinar on June 14, 2016 at 1:00 p.m. ET to discuss recent court decisions on the sticky issue of panhandling and solicitation.  Since the Supreme Court decided Reed v. Town of Gilbert, many local regulations relating to panhandling and solicitation have been invalidated by the lower courts.  Rocky Mountain Sign Law has covered several of these cases.  This webinar will discuss the ins and outs of some of these cases, and provide some practical advice for government officials, planners, and lawyers on how to address issues of panhandling and solicitation.

Otten Johnson lawyer Brian Connolly will serve as one of the panelists, along with Joe Mead of Cleveland State University and Kirsten Clanton of Southern Legal Counsel.  Sorell Negro of Robinson & Cole will moderate.

Check the ABA’s website for more details on registration here.  Those interested should plan on tuning in.

Bloomington, Minnesota required door-to-door solicitors to obtain a city-issued license.  The regulation defined solicitor in part as “an individual who goes from place-to-place . . . without an invitation from the owner or occupant, for the purpose of: (1) advertising, promoting, selling, leasing, installing or explaining any product, service, organization or cause; (2) seeking donations of money or property on behalf of any nonprofit, political or educational organization or for the purpose of procuring orders for the sale of merchandise or personal services for future delivery or future performance.”  A First Amendment challenge was brought by a nonprofit labor organization.  The federal district court found that the ordinance’s definition of “solicitor” was facially content based and subject to strict scrutiny.  The court held that the ordinance’s crime prevention goals were not a compelling governmental interest, and that the city had not chosen the least restrictive means of preventing crime.

Working America, Inc. v. City of Bloomington, ___ F. Supp. 3d ___, 2015 WL 67567089 (D. Minn. Nov. 4, 2015)