SAN MARCOS – The San Marcos City Council met on Tuesday, May 25, and gave final approval, 4-1, to a controversial ordinance that will limit picketing and protesting in front of private residences by creating a 300-foot buffer zone.
According to the staff report, the ordinance allows individuals to still protest in general residential areas or neighborhoods but prohibits protestors from targeting a specific residential unit and coming within 300 feet of that unit.
Violations of the ordinance would be categorized as an infraction and would result in a fine.
Councilwoman Maria Nunez was the single no vote on the issue, with Councilmembers Randy Walton, Sharon Jenkins, Ed Musgrove and Mayor Rebecca Jones all voting yes on the ordinance.
The ordinance was originally approved 4-1 at the council’s May 11 meeting, but the council was required to vote on a second reading of the ordinance.
The council received dozens of public comments at Tuesday’s meeting, with the majority of comments urging council members not to approve the ordinance.
Nunez, who opposed the motion both times, said at the last meeting that she feels the ordinance was created once it started affecting “decision-makers and people of power, such as elected officials.”
Back in February, when the San Diego Tenants Union was leading several protests on behalf of low-income tenants that were being evicted from the Villa Serena Apartments, the union posted on social media about protesting in front of Mayor Jones’ house.
However, Jones told The Coast News that the ordinance has nothing to with that specific incident.
“It’s not to protect people who are elected up here… it’s to protect the dozens of regular people who have been tasked with making controversial decisions in our society who find themselves having their front lawns filled with people,” Walton said. “This is almost identical to the County of San Diego’s law.”
The motion was approved 4-1.
The council also discussed naming recommendations for the park that is within the San Marcos Creek Project.
The options came down to either Paseo del Arroyo Park or Creekside Park.
Councilmembers unanimously chose to name it Paseo del Arroyo Park, which means “Creek Walk” in Spanish, the second most spoken language in San Marcos.