News Racks May Soon Be Back at San Juan Capistrano City Hall

Lawyers for the city and a local newspaper negotiated a deal in court today. It still must be approved by the City Council.

These news racks are in front of the San Juan Capistrano Library. Patch photo credit: Penny Arevalo
These news racks are in front of the San Juan Capistrano Library. Patch photo credit: Penny Arevalo

Originally posted at 4:57 p.m. Dec. 11, 2013.

News racks may soon be back at San Juan Capistrano City Hall and the Community Center after a judge forced city lawyers and an attorney for a local newspaper publication into a room to negotiate.

According to a tentative agreement that must be signed off by City Council members, racks for plaintiff Community Common Sense along with the Capistrano Dispatch and Orange County Register can return, albeit just a few feet away from their original positions

In November, the Community Common Sense, an advocacy paper often critical of the council majority, filed a lawsuit against Van Ligten, new Mayor Sam Allevato and Councilmen Larry Kramer and John Taylor in Orange County Superior Court, claiming they “violate the constitutional right of every resident in SJC to access and read newspapers and news publications as they see fit.”

The suit is in reaction to an August decision the council made to ban all newspaper racks at City Hall and the Community Center after Common Sense asked permission to place its news racks beside the Capistrano Dispatch and Orange County Register’s Capo Valley News.

After asking a few questions of lawyers for the city and Common Sense, Orange County Superior Court Judge James J. Di Cesare sent them into the jury deliberation room to work out a deal.

The conversation was loud at times, with the newspaper’s attorney, Wayne Tate, saying the Dispatch and Capo Valley News racks existed for years at City Hall with nary an incident.

Tate left the room about 30 minutes into the negotiations, while Van Ligten continued to consult with colleague Philip Kohn. An hour and 10 minutes, Tate was invited back into the room, and 27 minutes later, all parties emerged with a deal.

The proposal is to place the racks at City Hall in front of a brick planter just a foot or two north of where they were. At the Community Center, the racks will return, but instead of being next to the door, they’ll be allowed adjacent to two benches near the door.

Van Ligten declined to call the deal a defeat.

“We’re here, that’s part of the process. You always evaluate when people have an issue,” he said. “I don’t think of any members of the City Council want to engage in litigation for the sake of litigation.”

If the City Council and Common Sense representatives sign off on the settlement, the racks could return within weeks or even days, Van Ligten said.

“I’m just glad logic and reason and common sense could prevail,” Tate said.

Click here for today’s top stories from San Juan Capistrano Patch.

Apple sauce is gross December 11, 2013 at 08:04 PM
Thank Sam Allevato again for spending more attorney fees in attempting to trample on the U.S. Constitution. He just does not get it, does he?
Gus Gunderson December 11, 2013 at 08:15 PM
Why does the city always have so many attorneys? The city had at least two attorneys for this one. Community Common Sense one attorney. On the water issue the city had five attorneys. Capistrano Taxpayers Association one attorney. Is this the right way to spend public money fighting the Constitution ?
V. Duvall December 11, 2013 at 08:58 PM
Now we will just have more trash to throw away
shelly December 11, 2013 at 09:02 PM
I have received no e-mail updates on the recall of Sam Allevato from the Capistrano Dispatch or the OC Register but I did get one from Common Sense. In the last election I unsubscribed to the Common Sense but somehow I am back on their mailing list. How did this happen?
Penny Arévalo (Editor) December 11, 2013 at 09:16 PM
I added a photo to show you where the new racks will go. They will be allowed (if approved) in front of the brick wall near the notice sign. They were originally just to the right of it (as you're viewing the photo), tucked in the corner near the front entrance.
Penny Arévalo (Editor) December 11, 2013 at 09:45 PM
The city had a second attorney there likely because Hans Ligten was a named defendant and it's not always wise to have yourself as your attorney, or so the saying goes.
Gus Gunderson December 11, 2013 at 09:49 PM
That makes sense. Who was awarded attorney fees ?
Sunshine December 11, 2013 at 10:01 PM
So, Sam Allevato, how many of my tax dollars are going to go to uphold the First Amendment? Your attorney buddies are earning the big bucks again at the expense of SJC residents. BANNING newspapers??? There are some arrogant pigs running this city. Another reason to RecallSam.com .
Patrick O'Brien December 11, 2013 at 11:03 PM
Well, we can see the Tea Baggers are out in full force. Must be tough living with so much uninformed anger. A little anger management might help them.
Sunshine December 11, 2013 at 11:05 PM
What exactly is a "Tea Bagger" to you, Patrick O'Brien?
Sunshine December 11, 2013 at 11:14 PM
Patrick O'brien, I have a right to a little righteous anger when my tax dollars have to be wasted by being spent by arrogant council members for attorneys fees to keep dissenting views from the SJC residents. Now you guys want to ban my anger.
quercus December 12, 2013 at 02:34 AM
What is there to be angry about when you are right? Even Hans van Lightbeer couldn't see the sense in perusing this. Good for them for settling.
Angus Kevin Mckay December 12, 2013 at 09:27 AM
Sounds like Patrick is all too familiar with teabagging. Tea bagging is what Sam and the council did to the city when they tried to take publications out of a public place, one in each eye. we have more important stuff to worry about.
Sunshine December 12, 2013 at 11:33 AM
We do have a lot of important stuff to worry about and act on here in SJC. The banning of a newspaper on community property was only the tip of the iceberg. We have some outlaws running our city. I would like to know how much this banning debacle cost our city with lawyer, court fees and man hours. Penny, do you know how we get this information?
Penny Arévalo (Editor) December 12, 2013 at 11:54 AM
I will ask for it after the litigation is wrapped up, which could be as soon as next week. But if the parties don't agree to the deal the lawyers penned, then it's back to Square One.
Sunshine December 12, 2013 at 12:13 PM
Thank you, Penny. I will look forward to your report!
Gus Gunderson December 12, 2013 at 03:01 PM
Interesting to see what happens. From what I read this settlement releases the city, but states nothing about the city attorney, Sam Allevato, Kramer or Taylor.
Gus Gunderson December 15, 2013 at 01:12 PM
It is so very sad when the city attorney and three members of the city council feel it is ok to walk all over our civil rights .
Aaron Pluff December 16, 2013 at 02:47 PM
I will go out of my way to stop by city hall and get my paper. Just so the city council knows they are wrong.
Sunshine December 16, 2013 at 11:57 PM
Am I to understand that CCS is still banned from public property but all the other papers are still allowed to keep their racks?


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