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'A Cause for Liberty' : Broker Takes Sign Case to High Court

May 15, 1986|MARTHA WILLMAN | Times Staff Writer

A Glendale businessman who has been bucking the city's stringent sign ordinance for more than a decade doesn't give up easily.

Insurance broker Bob New, who has lost every other battle in his legal war with the city, on Tuesday appealed his cause to the state Supreme Court, saying the issue of sign control goes beyond mere painting on walls.

"This is a cause for liberty," said New, who has repeatedly argued that the ordinance regulating the size and type of signs is a violation of freedom of speech. He said he and two co-plaintiffs in the suit "are dedicated to the idea that we need more freedom in this country rather than less."

New was among the first business owners cited for violating the sign ordinance after it was adopted in 1973. The law prohibits rooftop signs and signs painted on walls, such as he has at his business at 736 N. Glendale Ave.

New fought criminal charges the city filed against him. The 1975 trial ended in a hung jury. The City Council subsequently granted businesses until 1983 to phase out their illegal signs. Many signs, including some that were considered by local historians to be historically significant, have since been removed.

Both the Glendale Superior Court and state District Court of Appeal have upheld the legality of the city's laws. The Supreme Court, New acknowledged, is his final avenue of appeal. New declined to say how much money he has spent challenging the city but commented: "I haven't paid anything like our predecessors paid for the cause of liberty. This issue burns deep in my heart. Freedom is worth the price."

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