Monday, December 14, 2009

Losing Public Spaces

Artist protester in Venice Beach, Calif.

The legal counsel for The City of St. Augustine feels that they can skirt the legalities of common public space by simply dubbing the public walkways, "proprietary city facilities". City Attorney Ron Brown will be proposing a resolution to do this at tonight's 5 pm commission meeting. The large amount of sidewalks and paths all around the Visitor Information Center and the Parking Garage will no longer be a public forum if this passes. Keep your city sidewalks, and parks public, or lose them. You St. Augustinians must decide or let complacency rule as tends to be the case here.

The resolution, if approved, will establish that such areas are not a public forum therefore vending activities should be banned. We strongly disagree in part and say that this promenade is a perfect example of public space for free speech. That said, it is clear that City Attorney Ron Brown is confused about what constitutes "free speech". Merchandising of non first amendment goods is NOT protected as a right of the citizens. ............Here is our message ........Do what you will with the flea market vendors....... do not lump the visual artists into that group. *

* Essentially , only one of our Art in The Market artists uses this area for display.


  1. Having completed post graduate studies in urban planning I can tell you that this has never been done before. Proprietary City property can be a building or a fire hydrant but not the traditional fora of sidewalks and promenades.There can be no legal reasoning for this.If they wan't to prevent flea market vendors then go ahead pass an ordinance preventing such. To arbitrarily remove property from the public use puts the city in legal jeopardy.

  2. putting the city in legal jeapordy over silencing freedom of speech issues is nothing new for them. They will continue to do so and continue to pay out legal settlements until the citizens demand change.

  3. Too bad that the average St. Augustine resident is unaffected by the city's actions against the artists. At least they don't feel affected, but their tax dollars are being wasted in large numbers to pay the attorney to trump up an illegal case against the artists. Then there are the court fees and all, not to mention the salaries of the inferior people running our town. We need new people in city government who truly have the aesthetics of St. Augustine in mind, rather than their own agenda.