Bill to reverse 'sign walker' ban returns - East Valley Tribune: News

Bill to reverse 'sign walker' ban returns

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Posted: Sunday, February 3, 2008 11:34 pm | Updated: 11:31 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

A state legislator is once again trying to overturn Scottsdale's decades-old ban on "sign walkers" who advertise auto dealers, housing subdivisions, and other businesses from city sidewalks and medians.

Rep. Bob Robson, R-Chandler, has introduced a bill for the second consecutive year that would force all municipalities to allow posting, displaying and using sign walkers.

Robson said he sees this as a First Amendment issue in which government is restricting free speech.

"A person on a street corner holding a sign, I don't think, is detrimental to the world," Robson said.

The bill also states municipalities may adopt reasonable time, place and manner regulations for public safety purposes, which Robson hopes will make it more agreeable to communities and the governor.

Last year, a similar bill was passed by the Senate and House but vetoed by Gov. Janet Napolitano, who at the time said: "Municipal leaders, who are most familiar with the community's roads and traffic accident history, must retain the regulatory flexibility to ensure the safety of their residents."

Scottsdale lobbyist Bridget Schwartz-Manock said she plans to discuss the bill before the City Council on Tuesday.

A committee hearing at the Legislature to review HB2066 has been scheduled for Wednesday.

Scottsdale has argued its ban on commercial sign walkers is necessary for safety and aesthetic reasons, and that banning commercial sign walkers in public rights-of-way is not limiting political free speech.

Councilman Ron McCullagh said he agreed with the position the city took last year.

"They are dangerous," McCullagh said. "People carrying signs in the median at intersections pose a real traffic hazard."

McCullagh said he could not comment on the merits of the new bill, which he had not seen.

Robson introduced his bill last year after James Torgeson, who owns a company that hires sign walkers for retailers, was cited by Scottsdale for violating the ordinance.

Last year, Scottsdale strengthened its sign regulations by banning all political campaign signs from public rights-of-way.

The impact of that new rule will be felt in the coming months leading up to the Sept. 2 mayoral and council election.

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