Supervisors reject anti-free speech ordinance
July 24, 2012
San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors Tuesday rejected a proposed ordinance that would have limited free speech and a person’s right to assemble after more than an hour of public speakers objecting to what they called a violation of their constitutional rights.
County Administrator Jim Grant’s proposed ordinance would have made it illegal to demonstrate at county facilities or vacant lands without first paying for and receiving a permit.
Failure to abide by the proposed ordinance was to be a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in the San Luis Obispo County Jail for not more than six months, or by a fine of not more than $500 or by both.
Retired San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Douglas Hilton said he agreed with having an ordinance that barred camping at county facilities, but not the prohibition of assembly or freedom of speech.
“Our constitution allows us to engage in political speech without asking anyone’s permission or paying a fee,” Hilton said. “That is where the ordinance falls short.”
Former Central Coast Congresswoman Andrea Seastrand said she had not seen any big problems that the proposed ordinance would remedy and she asked the board to “Just drop it.”
After listening to public comment, Grant recommended the supervisors pull the item from the consent calendar and send it back to staff to change or drop all together.
The board voted 5-0 to send the ordinance back to staff for reworking.