188 Cal.App.2d 339, 6359, Rees v. City of Palm Springs

Docket Nº:6359
Citation:188 Cal.App.2d 339, 10 Cal.Rptr. 386
Opinion Judge:[10] Shepard
Party Name:Rees v. City of Palm Springs
Attorney:[7] Jerome J. Bunker for Appellants. [8] Lewis Garrett and Lionel Richman for Respondents.
Case Date:January 20, 1961
Court:California Court of Appeals

Page 339

188 Cal.App.2d 339

10 Cal.Rptr. 386

Louis J. REES et al., Plaintiffs and Respondents,


CITY OF PALM SPRINGS, California, a municipal corporation, et al., Defendants and Appellants.

Civ. 6359.

California Court of Appeal, Fourth District

Jan. 20, 1961.

Page 340

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 341

Jerome J. Bunker, Palm Springs, for appellants.

Lewis Garrett and Lionel Richman, Los Angeles, for respondents.

SHEPARD, Justice.

By this action plaintiffs sought and obtained a judgment enjoining enforcement of certain sections of an ordinance of defendant City purporting to 'regulate' picketing. Defendants appeal.

The facts as shown by the record before us are, in general, as follows: November 14, 1956, the city counsel of the City of Palm Springs enacted an ordinance under the title 'Labor'. Section 2910 thereof recites the growth of the city; its traffic difficulties in the business area; the necessity of preventing unreasonable obstruction on its streets, and declares that picketing in labor disputes has caused unreasonable obstruction. Section 2911.1 describes picketing as walking, marching, or patrolling on a public way about or near to any place for the purpose of disseminating information regarding a labor dispute. Section 2911.2 defines a public way. Section 2911.3 defines a place of business. Section 2911.4 describes a labor dispute as one concerning wages, conditions of employment or union membership. Section 2912 states:

'Number of Pickets Limited. It shall be unlawful for any person or organization to engage in picketing where the number of pickets is in excess of the following limitations: * * *.'

Then follow five paragraphs covering Palm Canyon Drive and Indian Avenue between Tachevah Drive and Ramon Road, permitting one picket for each thirty feet of frontage in that area, and one picket for each twenty feet of frontage in any other part of the city, but allowing at least one picket to each place of business regardless of distance limitations. Sections 2913, 2914 and 2915 read as follows:

'2913. Confinement of Picketing to Location of Dispute. It shall be unlawful for any person to picket on the public way in front of or adjacent to or along the premises of any business establishment of any employer with whom, or with whose employees, he does not have a labor dispute.

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'2914. Blocking of Entrances. It shall be unlawful for any person to picket on any public way in a stationary manner within the width of any entrance to any place of business and no person shall picket on any public way within the width of any entrance to any place of business except while moving past such entrance at the rate of a normal walking pace.

'2915. Method of Picketing. It shall be unlawful for any person to picket in any circular, oval or rectangular pattern, said person in order to proceed in an opposite direction must reverse his direction and retrace his steps so as to always be moving in single file.'

Sections 2915.1 and 2916, respectively, cover limitations on size of placards carried and use of a public street primarily designed for vehicular traffic. Section 2917 reads as follows:

'Congregating into Groups. It shall be unlawful for persons engaged in picketing, in such instances where more than one picket is allowed under the provisions of this section, to congregate into groups, but such persons shall keep a reasonable distance between themselves so as to allow free passage of persons seeking to enter, leave or pass by the premises involved in the labor dispute.'

Sections 2918, 2919, 2919.1 and 2919.2, respectively, relate to prohibition of use by pickets of stationary advertising objects on the public way; contain reservations stating that the ordinance does not authorize unlawful, disorderly picketing, nor limit the power of courts, nor authorize unlawful conduct; provide criminal penalties; and repeal certain other ordinances. With these sections we are not concerned because sections 2913, 2914, 2915 and 2917 are the only ones subject of attack, and are the only ones included in the injunction.

At the time of trial, appellant City offered the testimony of Philip Abrams, director of public works for appellant. The transcript of this offered evidence is before us. The substance of this evidence was Abrams' qualifications in planning and construction of military camps, civil engineering, sanitary engineering, map making, and street planning before and after becoming, in 1959, director of public works for appellant City. An aerial map of the portion of the city described in section 2912 of the ordinance, covering about eleven blocks along both sides of Palm Canyon Drive and Indian Avenue shows widths of streets, locations of sidewalks and buildings, as well as other details. His testimony further described the zoning of this area as C-1a, or retail business district, and gave a general

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outline of the city zoning designations; the fluctuations in width and continuity of sidewalks; and stated that in his opinion no picketing whatever should be allowed in this area during the influx of tourists from November to April when the City's population increases from 10,000 to 60,000. He further stated:

'One picket per 30 feet of frontage on Indian Avenue, as I stated before, would just lend to the serious pedestrian traffic congestion that exists presently for a good portion of the year.'

He described the lack of sidewalks throughout the City outside the mapped area, and the general traffic hazard of picketing. No attempt was made to make any comparison between this City and any other city. This was the only evidence offered. It was rejected by the trial court.

Regulatory Restrictions on Picketing Must Not Unreasonably Discriminate

Appellants contend that the sections 2912, 2913, 2914, 2915 and 2917 of Article 291, which were declared invalid by the court's judgment, are a reasonable exercise of appellants' police power and are valid on their face, and that the court's judgment was therefore erroneous.

We believe a detailed review of the plethora of judicial discussion which has been written on this subject since the commencement of the industrial era in the United States, would serve no good purpose, for the...

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