A new state law has overturned Scottsdale's decades-old ban on commercial "sign walkers" that patrol sidewalks promoting nearby businesses.
Gov. Janet Napolitano signed legislation Tuesday that says all cities must allow sign walkers, the people who stand on sidewalks and hold signs directing passing motorists to new home developments, auto dealerships, furniture stores and other businesses.
The new law still allows cities to "adopt reasonable time, place and manner regulations" for sign walkers.
Napolitano's decision to approve the measure is a victory for Rep. Bob Robson, R-Chandler, who took up the cause a year ago when Scottsdale officials said their city ordinances prevent people from being in the public right of way while carrying signs. That includes sidewalks.
It also is an about-face for the governor, who vetoed a similar bill last year. Robson said the law, which will take effect next year, "allows for a person to exercise First Amendment right without fear of being cited or arrested."
The fight started when Jim Torgeson, who owns JetMedia Productions, found his workers being cited by Scottsdale. City officials said they were both blocking pedestrian traffic and distracting drivers.
Scottsdale spokesman Pat Dodds said the city opposed the bill on the basis that it preempted local control of what is not a one-size-fits-all issue.
"Different cities and towns should be allowed to decide for themselves whether they want to allow for that activity," Dodds said.
He said Scottsdale will review the law and decide whether to craft new sign regulations to comply or simply try to modify existing rules.
Tribune writer Brian Powell contributed to this report.