Monday, May 5, 2008

Free Speech At The Americana

As Franklin Avenue notes in their review of The Americana, and as I have mentioned here and here, the park at the center of The Americana is owned by the City's Redevelopment Agency. As it lies WITHIN a massive mall lifestyle shopping destination this opens up a tangled mess of freedom of speech issues. From the L.A. Times:
...the Glendale project, which cost $400 million, includes 2 full acres of landscaped green space at its center that, by law, belongs not to the developer but to the city's redevelopment agency. Glendale insisted on keeping control of that little patch of public realm when it was recruiting potential projects for the site.

That makes the distinction between public and private in the final product almost impossible to untangle. At the Americana, the park is public space masquerading as private space that is masquerading as public.

Got that?
Yes, I get that. I'm certainly not a lawyer, but in researching this issue I've found that the California Supreme Court has upheld the right of labor unions to picket inside shopping centers, so I don't see why any other type of protest wouldn't be allowed. The case is Fashion Valley Mall v. NLRB. Here is analysis by an actual lawyer. In a nutshell:

The Fashion Valley decision confirms that shopping centers remain a different constitutional creature altogether. Unlike stand-alone "box stores" or other commercial private property, shopping centers in the state must remain open to the public for general speech purposes, subject only to reasonable time, place and manner restrictions. Under Fashion Valley, it appears unions now will have free rein to urge primary or secondary boycotts of stores inside privately owned shopping centers. Under the Moscone Act, Code of Civil Procedure §527.3, such activities cannot be enjoined unless the store owner or mall can prove the union engaged in fraud, violence, breach of peace, disorderly conduct or unlawful blocking of access to, or egress from, the premises. on. Perhaps the Glendale Peace Vigil would like to test the waters. What better way to honor the "Spirit of American Youth"?

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