Park City Can Regulate Art Displays, Court Says

     (CN) – The 10th Circuit upheld an ordinance in Park City, Utah, that banned a local artist from displaying and selling his work in a public park during the Sundance Film Festival without a permit.

     On two occasions, Park City police stopped Bryan Travis from selling his art in Miner’s Park without a permit. The first time, in 2005, he was told to pack up his art and leave, but the next year he was allowed to continue displaying his art, so long as he didn’t try to sell it.
     Travis sued the city, claiming the ordinance violated his constitutional rights.
     Park City conceded that it wasn’t entitled to summary judgment, because Travis’ art was protected by the First Amendment.
     The district court determined that because the ordinance is content-neutral, it is narrowly tailored to serve legitimate government interests and is “an appropriate regulation of protected speech.”
     Representing himself, Travis strongly disagreed, but the Denver-based federal appeals court pointed out that he failed to “appreciate” the text of the ordinance, which specifically prohibits content-based regulation.
     “The ordinance requires compliance with height, lighting and set-back requirements and prohibits any display that would create public hazard,” Judge McKay explained.
     “Park City ‘enjoys a substantial interest in ensuring the ability of its citizens to enjoy whatever benefits the city parks have to offer,’ and this ordinance is narrowly tailored to serve that significant interest,” the judge added, quoting the Supreme Court’s decision in Ward v. Rock Against Racism. “The ordinance does not ‘burden substantially more speech than is necessary to further [Park City’s] legitimate interests’ in maintaining the order and safety of its public parks.
     “Finally, the ordinance continues to allow the display of art work in public parks and has no effect on the quality or content of that art apart from compliance with its de minimis requirements,” the court concluded.
     The three-judge panel emphasized that its ruling should not affect the outcome of a similar challenge, Christensen v. Park City Municipal Corp., because the plaintiff in that case, a visual artist and Travis’ friend, is challenging different ordinances.

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