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PRUS v. CITY OF CHICAGO
April 18, 1989
LOUIS PRUS, et al., Plaintiffs,
CITY OF CHICAGO, Defendant
Paul E. Plunkett, United States District Judge.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: PLUNKETT
HONORABLE PAUL E. PLUNKETT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Plaintiffs Louis Prus and the Northwest Side Real Estate Board bring a constitutional challenge to Defendant City of Chicago's ordinance regulating commercial advertising in certain residential neighborhoods. Currently before us is Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, we find the ordinance to be unconstitutional, and therefore grant summary judgment on the constitutional issue. The issues of damages and attorney's fees, however, are reserved for later determination.
The current ordinance represents the City's latest in a series of attempts to draft a constitutionally valid ordinance regulating for-sale signs and/or commercial advertising in residential neighborhoods.
This court previously issued a preliminary injunction against enforcement of Ch. 27, Section 27-371.1 of the Municipal Code of Chicago, a "traffic and aesthetic" ordinance which barred commercial outdoor advertising signs and displays in residential neighborhoods zoned R1, R2, and R3. See Order Granting Preliminary Injunction, 84 C 8626, Oct. 18, 1985. In explaining our determination that Plaintiffs had shown a likelihood of success on the merits, we stated as follows:
The court agrees with plaintiff's expert witness, Robert Hamilton, who testified that a ban on all commercial outdoor advertising in residential areas would have no impact on traffic safety. While the issue of aesthetics is a closer question, the court finds that the ordinance has only a limited effect.
Other evils, such as block busting and panic pedaling, have been mentioned. However, all witnesses agree that there has been no recent problem with these evils, so the court cannot consider them as an offsetting factor.
Id. at 2. After the parties had elected to stand upon the evidence submitted at the preliminary injunction hearing, we entered a permanent injunction. See Final Judgment Order, Nov. 27, 1985. The City appealed, and Plaintiffs filed a cross-appeal challenging our refusal to award attorney fees. The City, however, filed a motion to voluntarily dismiss their appeal, and the Seventh Circuit remanded the appeals to this court "with leave to the plaintiffs to amend their pleadings to demonstrate that the old ordinance retains any continuing force or to attack the new ordinance." See Order, 86-1003 and 86-1031, Dec. 23, 1986. Plaintiffs have chosen to attack the new ordinance.
The preamble of the new ordinance reads as follows:
Whereas, The nature and character of residential areas of the City of Chicago should be preserved; and Whereas, Residential communities have been inundated with commercial advertising signs of various colors, shapes and sizes; and
Whereas, The placement of commercial outdoor advertising signs and displays in residential districts constitutes a traffic hazard because those signs create a distraction to drivers of vehicles, diverting their attention from the road, principally because such signs are unexpected in residential communities; and
Whereas, Such commercial advertising signs and displays also constitute a definite detraction and are aesthetically unacceptable to the appearance of residential communities. . . .
Ch. 194A, Section 7.10-1(C) of the Municipal Code.
The ordinance then goes on to state the following restrictions on non-illuminated advertising signs in R1 ...
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