Judge says Phoenix suburb sign code enforcement overrides freedom of speech
PHOENIX — The city of Chandler has been ordered by a judge to stop enforcing parts of the city’s sign code that violated freedom of speech on state and federal levels.
The Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute had filed a lawsuit on behalf of Chandler business owners who were affected by the restrictions.
The East Valley city said it abide by the decision. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a similar sign ordinance in Gilbert a year ago.
In that case, a pastor said the town’s code infringed on his freedom of speech by making him take down signs directing congregants to his church.
The high court found that local government rules that treated signs differently based on what they said violated the First Amendment.
“We are happy that Chandler is taking active steps to make its sign code truly content-neutral,” Goldwater attorney Adi Dynar said in a statement.
Chandler’s ordinance divided signs into 11 categories based on what they said and imposed different restrictions on each category.
Signs that can go up without a permit include political signs and residential real estate signs. But other types require a permit.
Three shopping centers on Arizona Avenue were among the plaintiffs. The businesses were cited for disobeying the sign code.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.