May 25, 2022 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Santa Monica Lawmakers Withdraw Law That Would Have Restricted Certain Forms of Protest

Contentious item pulled from agenda at last week’s Santa Monica City Council agenda

By Sam Catanzaro

A contentious law that would have placed restrictions on certain forms of protesting in Santa Monica has been withdrawn.

On December 15, 2020, Santa Monica City Councilmembers Phil Brock and Christine Parra directed staff to propose an amendment to the city code to “reduce prolonged noise from protest activities in residential neighborhoods while still upholding First Amendment rights.” The move was in part a response to a series of recurring protests in December targeted at the Santa Monica residence of County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl who was spotted eating at a restaurant hours after voting to ban outdoor dining.

“These protests, which went on for several weeks, involved nightly, hours-long uses of amplified sound in a residential neighborhood that appeared intended to and did unreasonably harass and disturb the privacy and tranquility of residents” reads a March 5 city report on the topic.

Similar protests have also been held at the Santa Monica home of Assemblymember Richard Bloom.

At the December 15 meeting, Councilmember Brock said limiting excessive noise during evening hours at targeted protests could be done while also protecting First Amendment rights.

“What we are really trying to do is have an enhanced noise ordinance in the [residential] zones that allow families to have peace and quiet in their neighborhood. I want to make it very clear. I have absolutely nothing against protests and people should march, people should have placards and people who want to use their voices to express themselves on a street corner or in front of a house, they should be allowed to,” Brock said. “It’s about first amendment rights but it is also about the rights of people who live in a neighborhood.”

At the December 15 City Council meeting, all seven members voted to direct staff draft a proposal. Many Councilmembers, however, expressed concern about infringing on First Amendment rights by enacting such legislation.

“I am deeply deeply concerned about infringing on first amendment rights,” said Mayor Pro Tem Kristen McCowan. “We have to be careful.”

On March 5 Interim City Attorney George Cardona returned with a proposed ordinance that Brock said went beyond the scope of what he had intended and therefore requested the item be pulled from the agenda at the March 9 Council meeting.

“I’m astounded, frankly, that a small adjustment to the residential noise ordinance that I requested in December along with Councilmember Parra as a result of requests from Sunset Park residents, who could not have peace and tranquility in their purely residential neighborhood, morphed into an overarching anti-protest ordinance revision that affects the entire city,” Brock said during the meeting. “I resent that my specific, targeted method of helping our families in their homes at night became a ploy to change the rules of noise protests and the implements that protesters might utilize in the whole city.”

Cardona’s proposal would have prohibited using sound-amplifying equipment on a public sidewalk, street, alley or parkway located in a residential district after 10 p.m. and before 7 a.m. on weekdays or 8 a.m. on weekends. In addition, between the hours of 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., people could only operate sound-amplifying equipment on a public sidewalk, street, alley, or parkway in a residential district if they are stationary– staying in a fixed location for 5 minutes or more–which would “enable decibel levels to be more easily monitored as part of a determination whether the person’s conduct was in violation of city code.” Thirdly, the changes would have imposed additional restrictions on those who use sound-amplifying equipment at night within 500 feet of the same location multiple times in a 7-day period.

The ordinance also called for a prohibition on carrying certain items at community events, public assemblies and targeted residential protests. In 2008, City Council adopted an ordinance that prohibits carrying certain wooden objects during a protest or public assembly. Cardona proposed expanding the list of items prohibited at public assemblies, community events and targeted residential protests. The expanded list included items such as poles, sticks, wood and metal pipes, projectiles like rocks and pieces of concrete, glass bottles, aerosol sprays, shields, baseball or softball bats and laser pointers.

Since the item has now been pulled from last week’s agenda (as opposed to being voted down), Cardona says Council can not give staff any specific direction about changes to the legislation.

The attention surrounding the proposal comes as police departments across the country brace for potential unrest as the trial against Derek Chauvin, the police officer charged with killing George Floyd, began in Minneapolis this week.

On May 31, 2020 in Santa Monica rioters, taking advantage of a peaceful protest against the killing of Floyd, looted hundreds of Santa Monica businesses. The Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) was criticized for its response to the event, at one point firing tear gas and rubber bullets on a crowd of protestors while just blocks away looters tore through downtown Santa Monica.

Last week, Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) West Los Angeles Area Captain Jonathan Tom notified residents and business owners the department is preparing for different reactions to the trial. According to Tom, the West Los Angeles division does not have any specific intelligence regarding potential unrest in the area, but has pre-identified locations that are likely to be targets of looting, vandalism and protests.

“If it becomes necessary, we will pre-deploy officers to those locations,” Tom wrote.

Tom said in a phone call that the Westside locations are Westfield Century City, Westwood Village, Palisades Village and Wilshire Boulevard and Santa Monica Boulevard corridors.

SMPD Sgt. Rudy Flores told the Mirror in an email that the the Santa Monica police do “NOT have any specific intelligence suggesting any type of unrest in SM however we will have a plan in place similar to what we did during inauguration week and after the events that occurred at our nation’s Capital. Community safety in SM is definitely our priority, so we definitely will have a comprehensive response plan.”

in News
Related Posts

John Adams Middle School Student Selected to Perform at Carnegie Hall

May 24, 2022

May 24, 2022

JAMS Student Grayson Fitzgerald named junior finalist for the 2022 middle school honors performance series at Carnegie Hall By Staff...

SMC Student Film “The War Within” Accepted into 2022 American Pavilion at Cannes

May 24, 2022

May 24, 2022

Three Santa Monica College Films Will Screen at In-Person Festival, including 2021 Best Student Film Winner “Broken Layers” and 2020’s...

Santa Monica City Council Looks to Shorten Meetings

May 24, 2022

May 24, 2022

Council to consider changes at Tuesday meeting By Dolores Quintana Santa Monica lawmakers are considering taking steps to shorten City...

Landmark Theater Official Closes on Pico

May 24, 2022

May 24, 2022

Pico Boulevard location closes Sunday By Sam Catanzaro The Landmark Theater on Pico Boulevard in Westwood has officially closed.  The...

Road Closures Expected During Demolition Of Parking Structure Three: Santa Monica Beat – May 23rd, 2022

May 23, 2022

May 23, 2022

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes.* Free Donuts At Randy’s Donuts For National Doughnut Day* Road Closures Expected...

Los Angeles Metro Sees 15.9 Percent Increase in Median Rent

May 20, 2022

May 20, 2022

Median rent of $2,258, according to recent report By Dolores Quintana The ongoing pandemic has exacerbated the issues of housing...

New Renderings for Frank Gehry Hotel Development in Santa Monica

May 20, 2022

May 20, 2022

Project would include hotel, apartments, retail and a museum By Dolores Quintana Slowly but surely, plans for a  Frank Gehry-designed...

Shared Mobility Plummets in Santa Monica

May 20, 2022

May 20, 2022

Recent report also shows that nearly half of riders make over $100,000 By Sam Catanzaro Shared mobility use in Santa...

Christopher Dishlip Selected as Santa Monica’s New Assistant Director of Public Works

May 20, 2022

May 20, 2022

Public Works Director Rick Valte announced the selection of Christopher Dishlip as Santa Monica’s new Assistant Director of Public Works....

Letter to Editor: Response to Himmelrich’s “We Walk the Talk” Column

May 20, 2022

May 20, 2022

By Beau Marks As a Santa Monica resident, I am dismayed by Sue Himmelrich’s response (“We Walk the Talk,” Santa...

Motional And UberEats Launch Autonomous Deliveries In Santa Monica

May 18, 2022

May 18, 2022

There Are Plans For Expansion Into The Rest Of Los Angeles Motional, a global driverless technology leader, and Uber Technologies...

Winston Pies Opening Third Location In Santa Monica

May 18, 2022

May 18, 2022

The restaurant used to be known as ButterCrust Pies Winston Pies is staying in Santa Monica when opening their third...

Only 10 Vaquita Porpoises Survive, But The Species May Not Be Doomed

May 17, 2022

May 17, 2022

Hope remains for the porpoise species not only survive but thrive with human help. By Stuart Wolpert The vaquita porpoise,...

The American Cinematheque Brings “Bleak Week” To Santa Monica’s Aero Theatre And The Los Feliz Three Theatre

May 17, 2022

May 17, 2022

33 Films From 18 Countries In One Week. By Dolores Quintana Sometimes when things are tough and you’re feeling down,...

Man Who Murdered His Family Members Pleads Guilty To Five Other Killings

May 16, 2022

May 16, 2022

Escobar injured an additional seven other people as well.  By Dolores Quintana A man, Ramon Escobar, has pleaded guilty to...