The Coast News Group

Encinitas to fight ACLU lawsuit

ENCINITAS — The Encinitas City Council announced it would fight a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union over its recently revised campaign sign ordinance.

The ACLU filed the federal lawsuit on behalf of Encinitas resident Peter Stern on July 30, arguing that the city’s ordinance infringes on the constitutional right of free speech. The suit comes nearly a year after it formally demanded the city change the campaign sign ordinance.

The Encinitas City Council emerged from its closed session on Aug. 26 and announced it had empowered City Attorney Glenn Sabine to defend the city against the lawsuit.

Encinitas officials changed the sign policy to specifically avoid the type of accusation being levied by the ACLU. The City Council, in March 2014, amended its policy regarding signs to allow homeowners to have up to two signs on their properties prior to the election season. Previously, the city’s rules did not allow for any signs to be erected 30 days prior to and three days after an election.

The ACLU wrote the city in September 2014 demanding it be changed to allow people to post an unlimited amount of signs, saying that anything less would infringe upon a person’s constitutional right to free speech.

The ACLU, in a recent news release, said that the restrictions still limited a homeowner’s constitutional right to unlimited political speech.