Lone Tree repeals curfew for door-to-door peddlers

Reluctant council blames 'disappointing' appellate court decision

Nick Puckett
npuckett@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 10/10/20

To their collective chagrin, the Lone Tree City Council unanimously repealed the city's curfew for door-to-door solicitors and canvassers Oct. 6. The amendment to the city's commercial solicitation …

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Lone Tree repeals curfew for door-to-door peddlers

Reluctant council blames 'disappointing' appellate court decision

Posted

To their collective chagrin, the Lone Tree City Council unanimously repealed the city's curfew for door-to-door solicitors and canvassers Oct. 6.

The amendment to the city's commercial solicitation code eliminates the provision prohibiting solicitation of private residences between 7 p.m. and 9 a.m. The remainder of Lone Tree's commercial solicitation ordinance remains unchanged, including the city's “no-visit” list rules.

All four councilmembers voiced their displeasure through the virtual city council meeting. Mayor Jackie Millet, sharing in her cohorts' frustration, said amending the ordinance was necessary to help the city “avoid getting sued.”

A U.S. appellate court ruled in May that such a curfew for solicitors is unconstitutional.

The May 15 decision made by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in the case Aptive Environmental, LLC v. Town of Castle Rock, Colorado, ruled that Castle Rock's curfew for door-to-door solicitation violated the company's First Amendment right to freedom of speech.

The court decided Castle Rock failed to justify that the curfew was necessary to maintain public safety and protect residents' right to privacy.

The court based its decision on the case Central Hudson Gas and Electric Corp. v. Public Service Commission, a 1980 U.S. Supreme Court case used as precedent for ruling when commercial speech violates the First Amendment. The case concluded that a government regulation on commercial speech must be a “reasonable” means to the end objective. In Castle Rock's case, the end goal of privacy and safety did not outweigh the solicitor's right to freedom of speech.

Testimony in the Castle Rock case included valid concerns of safety and privacy regarding commercial solicitation, the decision states. However, none of the concerns related to the issue of needing a curfew, and the town had other means by which a person could maintain that privacy, like maintaining a "no-visit" list, the court found.

“In sum, our cases and the record demonstrate that, as to the privacy interest it asserts, Castle Rock has not carried its burden of demonstrating 'that the harms it recites are real and that its restriction will in fact alleviate them to a material degree,'” the decision states.

Aptive Environmental LLC, a door-to-door pest-control service, alleged that it struggled to do as much business in Castle Rock as it had in nearby markets when it moved to town in 2017. The company sued the Town of Castle Rock, arguing the town's curfew violated the First Amendment, and won.

The City of Lone Tree requires all commercial solicitors to register with the city. The city keeps a “no-visit” list of addresses for residents who wish not to be solicited. The list includes more than 900 addresses, according to the city clerk. “No-visit” residences are denoted by a sticker placed in the front window. To be placed on the “no-visit” list, contact Lone Tree City Clerk Jay Robb, jay.robb@cityoflonetree.com, 303-708-1818.

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