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Is it legal for a business owner to have an essentially permanent placard-waving device on a city sidewalk?

San Jose, CA |

A local business owner has put one of the automated placard-waving devices that mimic a human on a city sidewalk corner, and padlocked it to the light standard. This device obstructs pedestrian right-of-way and seems to be a conflict of using private property on public property. What is the legality of this device being on the city sidewalk 7x24 (or even during business hours)?

Attorney Answers 3


I am fairly certain it violates both state and local ordinances. File a complaint with your local City Attorney.

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You should contact your City's code enforcement department. It seems unlikely that permanently displaying a private sign in a public right-of-way would be permitted. The code enforcement officer should be able to tell you if the action complies with local regulations, and if it does not will likely pursue an action against the business owner.

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It is almost certainly not permitted, either under the city's ordinance or under the city's zoning regulations. It is likely that the city has ignored it because of a lack of complaints - violations are routinely ignored unless and until they are brought to the attention of the zoning authorities. In this case, because the activity is not taking place on private property, the usual cease-and-desist process can likely be avoided and the city could simply confiscate the placard device.

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