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Windshield Ads Get Final Notice in Santa Monica

May 26, 1988|MICHAEL FISHER | Community Correspondent

Tired of having your windshield sprinkled with flyers and leaflets promoting everything from pizza to perms? In Santa Monica, those ever-present advertisements will soon be a thing of the past.

The City Council late Tuesday night gave preliminary approval to an ordinance that outlaws the placement of commercial flyers, handbills or circulars on parked, unattended cars.

"It's an attempt to fight the litter problem in this city's parking lots, curbs and streets," Councilwoman Christine Reed said.

Violation of the new ordinance will be considered an infraction of the city's Municipal Code and would carry a fine of up to $100.

4-0 Vote

The ordinance would go into effect in mid-July, after a second reading and final council approval in two weeks.

The vote was 4 to 0, with two council members abstaining.

Councilman Dennis Zane suggested a city mailing to alert residents that they will now be able to complain about flyers left on their cars and expect something to be done about it.

County residents have long complained that flyers are a nuisance. Advertisers, on the other hand, see them as an easy and relatively inexpensive way to get their messages across.

Apparently anticipating a potential legal challenge to the law, city attorneys said in a staff report that the city's authority to regulate the distribution of commercial flyers falls under its power to reduce litter.

Free to Hand Out

Although a complete ban on the distribution of all political, religious and commercial leaflets could be interpreted as a violation of First Amendment rights, a partial ban on the placement of flyers on unattended vehicles would not be considered unconstitutional because leaflet distributors would still be free to hand their materials to passers-by on the street, the staff report stated.

The attorneys cited a 1984 Supreme Court case that upheld a Los Angeles law against hanging flyers on utility and light poles. In its decision, the court distinguished between the right to free expression through handing materials to passers-by and the right to leave similar material "unattended until removed."

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