In July of 2012, the Columbus City Council enacted ordinance 906. It provides for the regulation of city rights-of-way when individuals seek to erect structures the city deems not easily movable. Individuals seeking to erect such structures must obtain the approval of the Director of Public Service. The director promulgated concomitant regulations governing the supervision, control and occupancy of rights-of-ways. Any violation of the ordinance is a misdemeanor of the first degree, carrying a possible prison term of up to six months and a possible fine of up to $1,000. As a result of the ordinance, the Occupy Columbus tent on Capital Square was removed by the city.
We believe that the permitting scheme created by the ordinance and regulation is unconstitutional on its face. The definition of “not easily movable” within the ordinance is vague and overbroad. In addition, Chapter 906 provides unbridled discretion to the Director of Public Service and Director of Public Safety to grant or deny permits and requires additional fees for security, without providing enumerated standards, allowing for content-based discrimination. Further, it is a prior restraint on protected speech that provides no procedural safeguards because it has no administrative or judicial appeals process. Finally, it charges unreasonable fees unrelated to a compelling state interest, and has no fee waiver for indigent applicants.
On June 6, 2013 we filed our Complaint on behalf of Plaintiff, Occupy Columbus. On June 19, 2013 a telephone conference was held between the Court and the parties. The parties attended a mediation on June 26, 2013 where they reached a settlement.