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"Commercial speech is not protected by the First Amendment"

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Santa Clarita may have no business tax like Los Angeles, but they really have it in for signs. A 1990 sign ordinance does not allow tall billboard like signs (like the ones you may see from the freeway) within city limits. Until last year, the city gave businesses an opportunity to take down their signs within a long grace period. Then they got hardcore:

On Thursday, March 16, 2006, the City of Santa Clarita will begin removal of the illegal Santa Clarita Athletic Club's electronic sign, visible from Interstate 5, Wiley Canyon Road and Calgrove Boulevard. The City's removal of the sign is the result of a warrant issued by the Superior court, allowing the City access to the property for the purposes of removing the 39-foot tall sign. The City's sign ordinance was adopted in 1990, at which time, City businesses were given nine years to comply with the ordinance. During that time, hundreds of businesses have come into compliance with the City's ordinance, which regulates the size, height and lighting, among other aspects of businesses signs.

Under the warrant, the City will have until March 27, 2006 to enter the property and remove the sign, which is expected to take several days due to the large size of the sign. The City estimates the removal cost to be $20,000 which will be assessed to the property owner in their property taxes.

But that's not it. Today the Daily News is reporting that sign twirlers using the public right-of-way are next:
The city will crack down on sign twirlers who advertise everything from Hondas to ice cream from the walkways because they're in the city right-of-way. The popular nationwide phenomenon often features agile performers who defy passers-by to ignore them. Complaints apparently triggered the move.

[snip]

... [Courtney Wilson, an advertiser] did due diligence to avoid cutting into her advertising dollar with fines. She says she was told by the city no permits are required.

Curtis Williams, the city's enforcement guru, agreed that a permit is not required, but right-of-way encroachment is the problem and businesses cannot use the city's property to advertise their wares.

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