PLF suit sparks move to repeal ban on “For Sale” signs in parked cars

In response to the federal First Amendment lawsuit filed last month by Pacific Legal Foundation and San Juan Capistrano resident Michael Cefali, the city is poised to abolish its ordinance — San Juan Capistrano Municipal Code § 4-6.311(a) — that forbids the display of “For Sale” signs in cars parked on public streets.

The city has ended enforcement of the ordinance and, if the City Council gives final approval to a repeal measure on October 18, the law will be removed from the books.  If full repeal is finalized, and Mr. Cefali is refunded the fine he paid for violating the unconstitutional ordinance, PLF will drop its lawsuit.

Watch a two minute video on the case.


Read PLF’s litigation backgrounder.

“The city is making the right move in repealing this law, because the ordinance collides head-on with the Constitution,” said PLF Principal Attorney Larry Salzman.  “The First Amendment forbids government from banning signs or penalizing speech simply because it doesn’t like the content.  The government can’t ban a ‘For Sale’ sign while allowing other messages, such as political signs.  Some people may not like ‘For Sale’ signs in parked cars, but individuals have a right to communicate truthfully with the public — even when that communication is an advertisement.  We hope this case will send a message to other cities that continue to enforce unconstitutional sign bans:  Repeal them now or risk being served with an embarrassing and expensive lawsuit.”

“I am quite happy with the result of my lawsuit,” said Michael Cefali.  “Whenever there is a victory for First Amendment freedoms, even if that victory is local and relatively low-profile, everyone’s rights become a little bit more secure.  It took a little prod for the city to do the right thing, but after Pacific Legal Foundation helped me file the suit, the City Council acted quickly and decisively to correct the problem.  I would like to thank Pacific Legal Foundation for assisting me in bringing this challenge, and the City Council of San Juan Capistrano for voting 5-0 to repeal the unconstitutional ordinance.”

PLF represents Mr. Cefali without charge, as with all its clients.  The repeal is a win not only for Mr. Cefali, his neighbors in San Juan Capistrano, and constitutional protections for free speech, but also for the students who worked on the case at the PLF-sponsored Liberty Clinic program at Chapman University’s Dale E. Fowler School of Law.

The case is Cefali v. City of San Juan Capistrano.  More information, including the complaint, a litigation backgrounder, a video, a blog post, and case photos, may be found at PLF’s website.



pacific.legalAbout Pacific Legal Foundation
Donor-supported Pacific Legal Foundation is the leading legal watchdog organization that litigates for limited government, property rights, free enterprise, and a balanced approach to environmental regulations, in courts across the country.  PLF represents all clients free of charge.

Get Headlines free  SUBSCRIPTION. Keep us publishing – DONATE


0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments