How San Francisco Could, If It Wanted To, Stop Those Anti-Abortion Advertising Trucks

The anti-abortion mobile billboard trucks seen below, in town for Saturday’s West Coast Walk for Life, could be banned from the Streets of San Francisco, IMO. Here’s how to do it:

Step One: Amend San Francisco Police Code section 680 to make it look more like the City of West Hollywood’s Municipal Code section 11.441. Basically, that would mean, instead of banning “commercial advertising” on vehicles, we’d be banning all advertising, banning all mobile billboards.

Step Two: Start writing tickets.

What’s that you say, what about the First Amendment ‘n stuff? Well, let’s read up on a recent case from the California Court of Appeal called Showing Animals Respect and Kindness, et al. v. City of West Hollywood (B201721). You see, this animal-loving guy from S.H.A.R.K. got busted for driving his animal-rights mobile billboard advertising truck around town. He sued West Hollywood after he got cited but he lost. Why?  

Here Come Da Judges (the bulk of them, anyway):

“The city concedes that SHARK was engaged in noncommercial speech but maintains its ordinance applies to both commercial and noncommercial speech. SHARK, however, argues that the term “advertising” applies only to commercial speech. We agree with the city that the ordinance applies to both commercial and noncommercial speech.

“The term “advertise” is not limited to calling the public’s attention to a product or a business. The definition of “advertise” is more general: “to make something known to[;] . . . to make publicly and generally known[;] . . . to announce publicly esp[ecially] by a printed notice or a broadcast…”

So it looks like West Hollywood has a green light to stop both commercial and non-commercial advertising trucks from roaming its streets. What’s preventing San Francisco from doing the same thing?

Click to expand. On the Embarcadero:

And Market Street:

Just asking.

(Brace yourselves, more these trucks like these are on their way. Get used to it…)

How West Hollywood does it, after the jump

“Sec. 11.44.010 Purpose [¶] The purpose of this chapter is to eliminate mobile billboard advertising within the [c]ity in order to promote the safe movement of vehicular traffic, to reduce air pollution, and to improve the aesthetic appearance of the city.

“Sec. 11.44.020 General Requirements [¶] (A) It is unlawful for any person to conduct, or cause to be conducted, any mobile billboard advertising upon any street, or other public place within the city in which the public has the right of travel. [¶] (B) Mobile billboard advertising includes any vehicle, or wheeled conveyance which carries, conveys, pulls, or transports any sign or billboard for the primary purpose of advertising[.] (Italics added.)

“Sec. 11.44.030 Exemptions [¶] This section shall not apply to[:] [¶] (1) Any vehicle which displays an advertisement or business identification of its owner, so long as such vehicle is engaged in the usual business or regular work of the owner, and not used merely, mainly or primarily to display advertisements[;] [¶] (2) Buses; or [¶] (3) Taxicabs.”

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