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WWW.RicardoPacheco.com v. City of Baldwin Park

United States District Court, C.D. California

May 10, 2017

WWW.RICARDOPACHECO.COM ET AL.
v.
CITY OF BALDWIN PARK

          Present: The Honorable CHRISTINA A. SNYDER

          CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL

         Proceedings: (IN CHAMBERS) - ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE WHY A PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION SHOULD NOT ISSUE (Dkt. 21, filed December 27, 2016)

         The Court finds this motion appropriate for decision without oral argument. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 78; C.D. Cal. L.R. 7-15. Accordingly, the hearing date of May 15, 2017 is vacated, and the matter is hereby taken under submission.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         On December 12, 2016, plaintiffs www.RicardoPacheco.com, an unincorporated association, and Gregory Tuttle filed the instant action against defendant City of Baldwin Park (“City”). Dkt. 1 (“Compl.”). The gravamen of plaintiffs' complaint is that the City has enforced an allegedly unconstitutional ordinance that restricts core political speech on private property.

         On December 14, 2016, plaintiffs filed an ex parte application for a temporary restraining order (“TRO”) and an order to show cause why a preliminary injunction should not issue. Dkt. 9.

         On December 27, 2016, the Court denied plaintiffs' application for a temporary restraining order. Dkt. 21. The Court concluded that plaintiffs were likely to succeed on the merits of their claim that the City's sign ordinance was an impermissible content-based restriction on speech. Id. at 5. The Court further concluded that plaintiffs had shown that the balance of equities and the public interest weighed in favor of a TRO. Id. at 6-7. However, because plaintiffs did not allege any exigency, the Court concluded that the matter was “better decided on a more complete record and upon a full hearing as to whether a preliminary injunction should issue.” Id. at 7.

         On January 6, 2017, the parties requested a continuance of the hearing regarding a preliminary injunction because the City was “considering revising portions of its Zoning Code, including the portions challenged by Plaintiffs, and in ways that counsel for the parties believe may resolve some or all of the issues raised by Plaintiffs' lawsuit.” Dkt. 22 at 1.

         On April 24, 2017, the City filed an opposition to plaintiff's request for a preliminary injunction. Dkt. 31 (“Opp'n). Although the City amended its sign ordinance, “[t]he parties disagree as to the extent to which the Amended Sign Ordinance satisfies Plaintiff's complaint.” Id. at 3. Plaintiffs filed a reply on May 1, 2017. Dkt. 32 (“Reply”).

         Having carefully considered the parties' arguments, the Court finds and concludes as follows.

         II. BACKGROUND

         A. The Original Sign Ordinance

         Originally, Baldwin Park Municipal Code (“BPMC”) § 153.170.030 required individuals to obtain a permit before displaying a sign within the City, unless the sign is expressly exempted by § 154.170.040. Compl. ¶ 12. There was no time limit for deciding whether to grant or deny a permit. Id. ¶ 23.

         BPMC § 153.170.040(C)(11) exempted from the permit requirement political signs on private property, but only for those signs related to elections and only for the “45 days prior to [an] election” and no later than “14 days following the election.” Id. ¶ 13. BPMC §153.170.040(C)(10) exempted “noncommercial signs on private property, ” but allowed each property to display only two signs, including flags, restricting the size of each sign to five square feet and each flag to six square feet. Id. ΒΆ 16. Other ...


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