Man sues San Juan Capistrano over 'for sale' sign ordinance

Wednesday, September 14, 2016
Man sues San Juan Capistrano over 'for sale' sign ordinance
A San Juan Capistrano man is suing the city after he received a ticket for posting a 'for sale' sign inside his car while it was parked in front of his home.

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, Calif. (KABC) -- It's not uncommon to see a "For Sale" sign in a parked car but if you do that in San Juan Capistrano, you could be fined.

Michael Cefali said he just wanted to sell is Volkswagen, so he advertised it in front of his house last May, in hopes the signs in his back window would attract potential buyers.

"I was very surprised to find a ticket on my car in the morning, I couldn't believe it..." he said.

The $50 ticket was because of the signs on his car while it was parked on a public street, which is a violation of a city ordinance. Cefali said he paid the ticket and then wrote an email to the citation processing center to dispute it, but he never heard back.

Cefali, a Chapman Law School student at the time, told one of his professors, who is also an attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation.

He and his professor, Larry Salzman, filed a lawsuit against the city, claiming it violated the First Amendment.

"They have censored 'for sale' signs in your car, but you could advertise anything else with the same size, the same color, the same font. Any other sign on your car advertising say a garage sale or political message - that would be OK. So as long as you're not trying to sell your car," Salzman said.

In a statement, the assistant city manager said the following:

"The City's ordinance prohibiting vehicles parked on a public street for the purpose of sale is intended to prevent blight, ensure adequate residential parking, and maintain the quality and safety of San Juan Capistrano's neighborhoods."

Salzman said the city has to prove that the ordinance meets a compelling need, such as protecting public safety, but he believes they cannot prove that.

City officials said they are working with the city attorney's office to review the ordinance, but while the issue is under review, the city would not provide further comment.