Supreme court asked to overturn Reno voters’ ban on new billboards
October 16, 2002
Attorneys for a major billboard company Tuesday asked the Supreme Court to toss out the ban on new billboards enacted by Reno voters two years ago.
John Frankovich told the court the argument is the same one used in the Reno train trench and Fuji Park battles: The number of billboards the city permits is an administrative decision that can’t be decided by a ballot question.
Chris Wicker, representing Citizens for a Scenic Reno, disagreed saying voters set policy for the city, which is completely within their rights.
Voters approved the ballot question in 2000 banning new billboards in the city. That vote was upheld by district Judge Jerry Polaha in 2001.
“It’s inappropriate to allow voters to run a legitimate business out of town because it’s not popular,” Frankovich told the court. “It sets a dangerous precedent. Whose business is next?”
He said it’s the same as the trench and Fuji Park issue where the court ruled that the initiative process can’t be used to mandate an administrative action by the city.
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“This is a broad policy, but it’s directed at a single land use,” he said. “Land-use decisions are not subject to initiative.”
Wicker said the train trench and Fuji Park issues were specific ballot questions mandating an action and, correctly, ruled not eligible for a voter decision.
“This is a policy statement by the citizens of Reno that there are to be no new billboards in the city of Reno,” Wicker said. “What we have with this initiative is a true policy decision.”
The Supreme court panel of Cliff Young, Bob Rose and Deborah Agosti took the issue under submission.