DATE: February 5, 2002
TO: Board of Supervisors
SUBJECT: Residential Privacy
Individuals and families have a right to be secure in their homes. The County has a responsibility to promote and protect this security. Individuals also have a right to privacy in their homes. Here too, the County has a responsibility to promote and protect that privacy. An individual’s security is threatened and that person’s privacy is attacked when the person is subjected to targeted picketing at his residence. The individual whose home is picketed is a captive audience, unable to avoid the picketing unless he moves. The residential neighbors of the individual targeted are usually negatively affected as well, even though they had nothing to do with whatever issue triggered the picketing of a home.
In Frisby v. Schultz, 487 U.S. 474 (1988), the United States Supreme Court recognized that targeted residential picketing threatens a resident’s security and invades that person’s privacy. The Supreme Court further recognized that local governments have the ability to protect an individual in his home from this type of inappropriate intrusion by enacting an ordinance restricting targeted residential picketing.
Approval of today’s action will direct the Chief Administrative Officer, with the assistance of County Counsel, to return to the Board of Supervisors within 30 days with an ordinance to restrict targeted residential picketing in a manner consistent with the ruling of the Supreme Court. Such an ordinance will protect the tranquility, well-being and security of the home for the residents of the unincorporated areas of the County.
CHAIRMAN RON ROBERTS AND VICE-CHAIRMAN GREG COX:
- Direct the Chief Administrative Officer, with the assistance of County Counsel, to return to the Board within 30 days with an ordinance to restrict targeted picketing of private residences in the unincorporated areas of the County.
- Direct the Chief Administrative Officer to draft a letter for the signature of the Chairman and Vice-Chairman, requesting those cities within San Diego County that currently do not have ordinances prohibiting picketing of private residences to consider passing ordinances that would provide such protection.
There will be no fiscal impact as a result of this action.
The City of San Diego has a prohibition against picketing private residences. Three smaller cities (Poway, Solana Beach and National City) in San Diego County have prohibitions as well. These laws have been passed usually in response to incidents whereby people experienced threats to their privacy and security in their own homes by disgruntled groups of picketers. It would be in the public interest for the San Diego County Board of Supervisors to consider passing such an ordinance protecting County residents at a time when there is not an emotional or volatile issue that would distract the rational discussion of a targeted picketing ordinance.
We believe that our Board of Supervisors should afford the residents of the unincorporated areas of the County the level of privacy and security of freedom from residential pickets that has been upheld by the United States Supreme Court. We urge your support for the passage of an ordinance that will provide this protection.