Monday, July 18, 2011

Great Moments in Property Signage: Eighth Circuit Edition

Eminent d A few weeks back we had a post about this sign that overlooks Interstate 44 in St. Louis.  To recap, the city of St. Louis used eminent domain to condemn 24 buildings owned by Jim Roos' non-profit organization.  To protest the condemnations, Roos painted this huge "End Eminent Domain Abuse" mural on the side of one of his buildings. 

Unsurprisingly, the government of St. Louis wasn't happy.  The city's Building and Inspection Division cited Roos for violating the city's sign code, arguing that permits were required for “signs” of this size displayed on a building. However, according the the code, if the mural had been a symbol of a nation, state, city, or fraternal, religious and civic organization, or a "work of art" then it would have been allowed--those things aren't considered "signs."  Fed up, Roos' sued the city for violating his First Amendment rights.

Last week, in Neighborhood Enterprises, Inc. v. City of St. Louis the Eighth Circuit (Smith, Gruender, & Benton) agreed with Roos. They found that the restrictions imposed by the zoning code were "impermissibly content based and failed strict scrutiny." According to the court, a city can't allow some messages, like messages conveyed in works of art, but prohibit others.

Let's end with a link to Tesla's Signs.  Click it. I know you want to. 

Steve Clowney

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