Why Don’t They Just Designate the Building as Blighted? It’d Save Some Time
This has been a hot topic around the office, but as I was skimming through our recent posts, I realized that we have yet to mention it here.
Jim Roos, a veteran activist against eminent domain abuse in Missouri (and a notable contributor to our recent eminent domain study), has painted a two-story mural on the side of a brick apartment building near Soulard, owned by his housing ministry, which advocates an end to state eminent domain abuse. The mural is visible to drivers heading north toward downtown on I-55.
The city of St. Louis has cited Roos for displaying a sign that officials say violates city zoning ordinances. This has prompted a federal lawsuit challenging the ordinance on free speech grounds. In the Post-Dispatch‘s coverage of the issue, Roos has a really great quip:
“I think if it said, ‘Go Cardinals,’ we wouldn’t have any problems."
How sadly true.
The city of St. Louis routinely approves exemptions for large signs, but argues that its opposition to Roos’ particular sign is in the interest of “clutter” and neighborhood complaints — not political message. One city official commented:
"Can you imagine what our city would look like if everyone were allowed to paint a 363-square-foot, two-story sign on their buildings?"
I’m not sure, but I can guess that it would probably look something like all the buildings downtown with two-story “Go Cardinals” signs displayed on them.
But apparently that’s not “clutter.”