Unequal Justice In City Codes

July 21, 20230
St. George City Hall is pictured on Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020.

Recently, a friend of mine was found in violation of St. George City Code for having advertising flags in front of their business. You know the type. The big “teardrop” flags that you see all over town.

Turns out the code enforcement officer had sent a “friendly notice”, then an actual notice. He then came in a week after the required date to take down the flags, asking why the company would continue to violate the code. No one had seen the notice due to staff turnover, and flags were immediately removed.

So, I went through the code in question. According to code, any signs that “flutter in the wind” is prohibited. BUT, the code also says you can get a variance by going to the Sign Review Board. I went down to the city offices to find out how the company could get a time slot on the Sign Review Board’s meeting.

Turns out the Sign Review Board no longer exists, and the code needs to be updated. So there’s no way to get a variance. And since you see these signs all over town that have been there for a long time, many companies have been able to get the variances in the past. And if you want to use them short term, in a portable capacity to advertise a specific event or sales, you need to get a permit. Unless you’re advertising for a real estate property on a new subdivision. Then it’s OK.

Oh, and if he had left the flags up, he would have been brought up on misdemeanor charges (according to code). Turns out the Code Enforcement officer is part of the SGPD.

Since the code is enforced by the SGPD, and violation is a misdemeanor, this makes it law. And since some companies and groups in town are allowed to have advertising flags up, whether or not the ability to get a variance currently exists, is this not a clear violation of the 14th amendment to the Constitution, of equal protection under the law?

While the issue with my friends’ flags is an interesting allegory, it shows a fundamental issue with many of the city codes, and how they are enforced. Why does the code exist? Who does it hurt? And why are the codes (now laws due to police enforcement) allowed to be enforced in a discriminatory fashion?

This is one of the reasons I’m running for City Council. There are too many of these types of Codes (laws) which are discriminatory in design and application. It’s equal for all or equal for none.

If you want to see real change in the city, please help me by sharing this post, and consider donating to my campaign. Unfortunately, campaigns are expensive affairs. To donate (and find out more information on my campaign), go to https://elect.kimballwillard.com.

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