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Sign-wavers still OK

Costa Mesa may not restart enforcement of its anti-solicitation ordinance, despite a recent court ruling that allows another city to do so.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last week sided with Redondo Beach in the city’s quest to arrest anyone waving a sign at motorists for work, but the final ruling lies ahead, said Gladys Limón, an attorney with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

“The district court’s decision, holding the Redondo Beach’s ordinance unconstitutional, and the injunction preventing the ordinance’s enforcement, remain in place until the circuit courts’ final judgment is issued,” Limón said.

Earlier this year, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Day Laborer Organizing Network and MALDEF filed a lawsuit against Costa Mesa’s ordinance, claiming that it violates job seekers’ 1st Amendment right to express their availability for work.


Costa Mesa agreed in March to stop enforcing the rule pending an appellate court decision on the Redondo Beach case. In exchange, the civil rights groups agreed to hold off on pursing their case against the city.

Last week’s 2-1 decision in favor of Redondo Beach indicates that Costa Mesa could prevail in the lawsuit, city officials said.

“I think it’s certainly promising news,” Costa Mesa Mayor Allan Mansoor said. He referred questions about the potential legal ramifications to the city attorney.

Until a final ruling is issued, Limón said, Costa Mesa cannot lift its moratorium.


“The court in the Costa Mesa case orders the case stayed, pending a final decision by the 9th Circuit in Redondo Beach, and because that decision is not yet final, the stay, or the moratorium, remains in place,” she said.

Because the decision in Redondo Beach’s case was split, MALDEF and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, plan to petition for a rehearing by a full panel, Limón said. A full panel comprises 11 judges.

Judge Kim McLane Wardlaw, who cast the dissenting vote, wrote in her opinion that the ordinance violates established principles, Limón said.

“Her definition is consistent with the ruling of other federal judges in similar cases, and it provides the plaintiffs with strong reason to continue to challenge the ordinance,” Limón said.

The Costa Mesa City Council was briefed on the latest ruling during its closed session Tuesday, but no action was taken.

“We haven’t made a decision yet about what we’re going to do next,” City Atty. Kimberly Hall Barlow said. “We’re still evaluating what we will be doing in light of the Redondo Beach decision.”