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Int'l Soc'y for Krishna Consciousness of California, Inc. v. City of Los Angeles

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

August 20, 2014

INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR KRISHNA CONSCIOUSNESS OF CALIFORNIA, INC., a California nonprofit, religious corporation and EMIL BECA, one of its individual members, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
CITY OF LOS ANGELES, a California Municipal Corporation; STEPHEN YEE, Airport Manager; BERNARD J. WILSON, Chief of Airport Police, Defendants-Appellees

Argued and Submitted, Pasadena, California: May 16, 2014.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California. D.C. No. 2:97-cv-03616-CBM-JC. Consuelo B. Marshall, Senior District Judge, Presiding.

SUMMARY[**]

Civil Rights

The panel affirmed the district court's summary judgment in an action brought by the International Society of Krishna Consciousness and the group's president challenging section 23.27(c) of the Los Angeles Administrative Code, which bans continuous or repetitive solicitation for the immediate receipt of funds at Los Angeles International Airport.

The panel held that major international airports have a legitimate interest in controlling pedestrian congestion and reducing the risk of fraud and duress attendant to repetitive, in-person solicitation for the immediate receipt of funds. The panel held that because section 23.27(c) is limited in nature and leaves open alternative channels for plaintiffs to raise money, the ordinance acts as a reasonable restriction on protected speech under the First Amendment.

David Liberman, Los Angeles, California; and Robert C. Moest, Santa Monica, California, for Plaintiffs-Appellants.

John M. Werlich, Westlake Village, California, for Defendants-Appellees.

Before: John T. Noonan and Kim McLane Wardlaw, Circuit Judges, and Roslyn O. Silver, Senior District Judge.[*] Opinion by Judge Noonan.

OPINION

Page 1045

NOONAN, Circuit Judge:

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness of California, Inc., along

Page 1046

with Emil Beca, the group's president (collectively, " ISKCON" ), appeals the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the City of Los Angeles (" City" ), Los Angeles International Airport (" LAX" ) manager Stephen Yee, and LAX police chief Bernard J. Wilson (collectively, " Appellees" ).

After nearly two decades of litigation, the only remaining legal issue in this case is whether section 23.27(c) of the Los Angeles Administrative Code[1]--which bans continuous or repetitive solicitation for the immediate receipt of funds at LAX, a nonpublic forum--is a reasonable restriction on protected speech under the First Amendment.

Because ISKCON has failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact as to whether section 23.27(c) is a reasonable restriction on speech in light of LAX's lawful purpose, we affirm.

I

A

LAX occupies some 3,500 acres of land southwest of downtown Los Angeles. Each year, more than 60 million travelers pass through its doors, making it one of the world's busiest airports.

Including Tom Bradley International Terminal (" TBIT" ), LAX has nine separate terminals arranged along the outside edge of a horseshoe-shaped configuration of multilevel roadways. The upper roadway services the departure areas, while the lower roadway services arrivals. At each terminal, the roadways are flanked continuously with sidewalks ranging in length from 440 to 876 feet and in width from 12 to 30 feet. A substantial majority of travelers must cross the sidewalks to enter or exit the terminals, as must any greeters or well-wishers. The parking structures lie in the horseshoe's interior.

Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 (" 9/11" ), LAX adopted significant changes to its security protocols. As part of these changes, the maximum terminal space available to the general public decreased from 4,000,000 to 211,000 square feet--a reduction of about ninety-five percent. A significant portion of that previously available space has since been occupied by the Transportation Security Administration (" TSA" ) and its passenger screening infrastructure. Concession and retail establishments are now mostly located in sterile areas of LAX's terminal buildings and are not open to the general public.

Enacted four years prior to 9/11, section 23.27(c) of the Los Angeles Administrative Code provides, in relevant part:

(c)(1) No person shall solicit and receive funds inside the airport terminals at the Airport.
(2) No person shall solicit and receive funds in the parking areas at the Airport.
(3) No person shall solicit and receive funds on the sidewalks adjacent to the airport terminals or the sidewalks adjacent to the parking areas at the Airport.
(4) Subdivisions (c)(1), (c)(2), and (c)(3) apply only if the solicitation and receipt of funds is conducted by a person to or with passers-by in a continuous or repetitive manner. Nothing herein is intended to prohibit the distribution of flyers, brochures, pamphlets, books, or any other printed or written matter as long as such distribution is not made with the

Page 1047

intent of immediately receiving funds, as defined in subdivision (c)(5), at the locations referred to in ...

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