Human Signs

All governments must allow human non-commercial signs in the right of way since it is a traditional public forum. Governmental regulation of speech on the sidewalk is very dangerous. While non-commercial messages carry more protection than commercial messages, codes that allow signs for non-profits and political signs on the sidewalk but ban commercial speech may be viewed as discriminating based on content.

Some cities regulate human commercial signs as in violation of their ban on “off premises” signs, if the signs are not located directly in front of the business. If the commercial signs are in the right of way, cities will cite them as in violation of their ban on signs in the right of way. If the human commercial signs are spinning, cities will cite them as in violation of their ban on animated signs.

It may be best to regulate the commercial sign spinners outside of the sign code in an attempt to avoid strict scrutiny, by classifying the commercial signs spinners on public property or the rights of way as a nuisance, and including many findings in the code regarding the safety issues implicated by sign spinners. Here is an excerpt from a code that could be adopted to deal with this issue:

It shall be unlawful and a violation of this Code for a human sign spinner to display a human commercial advertising sign while standing or sitting on public property or on public rights of way, where a commercial advertising sign message is directed or otherwise oriented in whole or in part to passing motorists and vehicular traffic transiting nearby on an adjoining street or