La Cañada to allow fortunetellers, citing free speech

Citing free-speech rights, La Cañada Flintridge leaders voted this week to officially allow fortunetellers, palm readers, psychics and other self-styled clairvoyants to set up shop within city limits.

The issue came up after the city received inquiries from fortunetellers weighing a move to La Cañada, city officials said. The only problem was that the city's zoning code did not address fortunetellers or similar vendors, leaving them in a limbo of being neither allowed nor barred.

The City Council's vote on Monday erased that ambiguity and specifically allows the businesses to operate in certain commercial areas of the city, the La Cañada Valley Sun reported.

The move came after city officials said in a report that fortunetelling and psychic readings are considered free speech and therefore could not be subject to an outright ban.

But members of the planning commission, which first took up the issue this summer, struggled over how to define such businesses under the city code. Some called them a form of entertainment, others saw them as service providers.

Council members eventually settled on the services label with little debate.

“Some people think it’s just a fun thing, and some think it’s a serious service. I can’t tell you who’s right or wrong, but to accommodate that, we put it down as a service,” Mayor Laura Olhasso said.

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joe.piasecki@latimes.com

Twitter: @JoePiasecki

Joe Piasecki is a Times Community News staff writer.

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