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Atherton City Council could limit picketing outside of homes

A series of protests in front of a house on Carolina Lane spurred the proposed change

Uber drivers and other gig economy workers protest outside the home of Uber investor Bill Gurley for better working conditions and compensation Nov. 6, 2019 in Atherton. Now, police are considering limiting similarly targeted picketing in town. Photo by Sammy Dallal.

After a series of protests in front of an Atherton home on Carolina Lane in November and December, the town is considering whether to prohibit picketing within 300 feet of a residence.

During the last two weeks of November and the first two weeks of December this winter, organized protesters demonstrated in front of a residence located on Carolina Lane in Atherton, according to a Jan. 18 report written by Atherton Police Chief Steve McCulley.

It's unclear what the picketers were protesting. A person involved in a business-related dispute with the resident on Carolina Lane hired the protestors to picket and target the resident and his family, McCulley told The Almanac. He said protesters were holding signs, but he doesn't know what the signs said.

"The resident feared for his safety, the safety of his family, and temporarily moved from their residence during these protests," the report states. The protests took place daily for up to eight hours per day, according to the report.

The order is aimed at "protecting the peace and tranquility" of Atherton residents in their homes, McCulley wrote.

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"This is a content-neutral, narrowly tailored time, place and manner restriction on picketing in a limited public forum that will preclude picketers from targeting individual residences by remaining at least 300 feet from any individual residence, while leaving open ample alternative channels for communication available to picketers," according to the code amendment. "It also enables people targeted picketing to bring an action against any person who violates the code to recover an award of a civil penalty of up to $1,000, as well as costs and reasonable attorneys' fees."

McCulley said the homeowner is trying to stay out of the media due to fear of further protests.

Similar laws

Atherton is not the only California city to consider such restrictions.

The Los Angeles City Council approved a similar law in 2021, which also limited protesters from being within 300 feet of a private home and also includes a $1,000 fee for violations of the rules.

Los Gatos passed an ordinance in October 2021 after anti-LGBTQ groups protested outside of Mayor Marico Sayoc's home. The 300-foot buffer and $1,000 fine also apply.

The San Francisco Chronicle noted that the leading case for restrictions on residential protests in California came in 1995 when an appellate court rejected a challenge by abortion opponents to a San Jose ordinance that limited demonstrations within 300 feet of residence targeted by the protests.

Meeting info

The council will vote on the code change during a Wednesday, Jan. 18, meeting at 6 p.m. that will be streamed on Zoom and held in the Atherton City Council Chambers at 80 Fair Oaks Lane.

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Angela Swartz
 
Angela Swartz joined The Almanac in 2018 and covers education and small towns. She has a background covering education, city politics and business. Read more >>

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Atherton City Council could limit picketing outside of homes

A series of protests in front of a house on Carolina Lane spurred the proposed change

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Tue, Jan 17, 2023, 4:42 pm

After a series of protests in front of an Atherton home on Carolina Lane in November and December, the town is considering whether to prohibit picketing within 300 feet of a residence.

During the last two weeks of November and the first two weeks of December this winter, organized protesters demonstrated in front of a residence located on Carolina Lane in Atherton, according to a Jan. 18 report written by Atherton Police Chief Steve McCulley.

It's unclear what the picketers were protesting. A person involved in a business-related dispute with the resident on Carolina Lane hired the protestors to picket and target the resident and his family, McCulley told The Almanac. He said protesters were holding signs, but he doesn't know what the signs said.

"The resident feared for his safety, the safety of his family, and temporarily moved from their residence during these protests," the report states. The protests took place daily for up to eight hours per day, according to the report.

The order is aimed at "protecting the peace and tranquility" of Atherton residents in their homes, McCulley wrote.

"This is a content-neutral, narrowly tailored time, place and manner restriction on picketing in a limited public forum that will preclude picketers from targeting individual residences by remaining at least 300 feet from any individual residence, while leaving open ample alternative channels for communication available to picketers," according to the code amendment. "It also enables people targeted picketing to bring an action against any person who violates the code to recover an award of a civil penalty of up to $1,000, as well as costs and reasonable attorneys' fees."

McCulley said the homeowner is trying to stay out of the media due to fear of further protests.

Similar laws

Atherton is not the only California city to consider such restrictions.

The Los Angeles City Council approved a similar law in 2021, which also limited protesters from being within 300 feet of a private home and also includes a $1,000 fee for violations of the rules.

Los Gatos passed an ordinance in October 2021 after anti-LGBTQ groups protested outside of Mayor Marico Sayoc's home. The 300-foot buffer and $1,000 fine also apply.

The San Francisco Chronicle noted that the leading case for restrictions on residential protests in California came in 1995 when an appellate court rejected a challenge by abortion opponents to a San Jose ordinance that limited demonstrations within 300 feet of residence targeted by the protests.

Meeting info

The council will vote on the code change during a Wednesday, Jan. 18, meeting at 6 p.m. that will be streamed on Zoom and held in the Atherton City Council Chambers at 80 Fair Oaks Lane.

Comments

Robert D.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Jan 18, 2023 at 1:03 pm
Robert D., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Jan 18, 2023 at 1:03 pm

is it 300 feet from the residence or 300 feet from the property line? The article said residence.... very different connotations


Angela Swartz, Almanac Staff Writer
Registered user
another community
on Jan 18, 2023 at 6:15 pm
Angela Swartz, Almanac Staff Writer, another community
Registered user
on Jan 18, 2023 at 6:15 pm

@Robert D. -- The police chief clarified tonight that it's the property line in front of the home


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