San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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↑ A decorated car planter outside a headshop on the interstate is at the center of a city effort to enforce an ordinance prohibiting junk cars.

By BRAD ROLLINS
Managing Editor

A state district judge on Monday scheduled a hearing for later this week on a novelty shop owner’s appeal of a municipal court ruling on a 1988 Oldsmobile converted into a sculpture and cacti planter.

On Monday, Planet K owner Michael Kleinman filed for a temporary restraining order to keep the city’s marshal office from hauling off the brightly colored vehicle from the store’s property on the access road at 910 Interstate 35. The car is painted with lively murals by San Marcos artists Scott Wade and Furly Travis and planted with prickly pears and yucca where the seats used to be.

In December, a code enforcement officer wrote the store’s managers that the exhibit constitutes a public nuisance under a city ordinance that prohibits junk vehicles visible from roadways. Municipal Judge John P. Burke upheld the citation on Thursday and Kleinman said he would appeal.

“We’re going to take it as far as they want to take it,” Kleinman said on Friday. “It’s not a junk vehicle. It no longer moves, never will move, and on top of that, it’s got art on it. And it’s a planter on top of that. And it’s got freedom of speech on top of that.

In a meeting with both parties in his chambers this afternoon, District Judge Charles Ramsay set a full hearing on Planet K’s claims for 9 a.m. Thursday. But assistant city attorney Andy Quittner said the city would likely file notice on Tuesday to have the case moved to federal court instead.

“If they’re going to raise federal issues, we’d rather have a federal judge hear the case,” Quittner said.

brad@newstreamz.com

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9 thoughts on “Hearing on injunction set in state court but city will move for federal venue

  1. Pingback: QUOTE OF THE DAY : Newstreamz

  2. I don’t know. I just can’t imagine that the city doesn’t have better things to worry about than this. They’re obviously picking on them because theyre a head shop.

  3. I imagine the city government has received complaints from citizens and they are responding to those complaints. If a lot of residents believe it is an eyesore, and if it violates the current rules regulations whatever the correct term, then the city is doing the right thing by pursuing action. We certanly want city government to listen to the voice of the people.

    I do find it interesting that the byline to this article states it is a “decorated car planter” … what it is deemed to be, will probably be a key ingredient to the subsequent determination of resolution.

  4. I take your point on whether to call it a decorated car planter. I think it’s an accurate description of what it is especially since decoration and art seems really rather different to me. Whether it is or not, calling it that out of needing some reasonable way to characterize it is not the same as saying it meets the legal definition for art. Does that make sense at all?

  5. As a resident of San Marcos, I can tell you it’s definitely because it’s a headshop. No citizens have complained about the car. Their other stores in Austin have had similar “art cars” out front for years with no complaints. But in San Marcos, we have a very active planning department anxious to fashion a city to match their utopian dreams. Head shops don’t fit in well with their notions of a good community.

  6. It seems kind of difficult to imagine that one could accurately say “no citizens have complained about the car”. How would one know this? It seems unlikely that there is anything going on in this town that “no citizens have complained about.”

    Where would the complaints even go? One might complain to a city council member, or the mayor, or the chamber of commerce, or P&Z. If someone thought the car was dangerous, they might complain to the police or the fire department. Hell, I have no idea where it might occur to someone to complain, so running down all of those people and asking them if they (or anyone in their office) had complained would be tough.

    It would also be tough to say that it is “definitely” because it is a head shop. I’m pretty square, but it seems like we’ve had them before, without issue. Maybe I’m mistaken. Have there been a rash of “head shop” complaints, that lead you to believe this is definitely the reason for the fuss?

    Personally, it makes no difference to me, whether the car (and it is a car) stays or goes. I do respect the rights of the property owners around the shop, though. If they have a problem with the car (and I don’t know if they do) and they bought their properties with the understanding that no neighbors would be parking car-art on the side of the road, that needs to carry some weight.

    BTW, this city desperately needs active planning if it is going to grow.

  7. A couple of weeks ago, when I passed by Planet K on I-35, I made a double take. I felt tickled that it was in San Marcos. Then I texted a few close friends asking them if they were aware of the store opening in San Marcos. I then felt jokingly jaded that when I was living in San Marcos (a number of years ago)- I had to drive to Austin just to visit a Planet K. My most treasured memories of those store trips were reading through and then purchasing the most excellent greeting cards. You see- I was born equipped with a funny bone and Planet K never let me down when I needed that special card for that special someone. Thanks Planet K! There I have pledged my allegience. Now, as for the car planter- all I can say is WOW! I am amazed that matters such as these must be defended and otherwise challenged. Warning- here I go…The auto is being recycled as a planter (we all should make a personal commitment to recycle), the plants are contributing to oxygen production (next to a hwy mind u), the auto provides a whimsical canvas on which the artists expressed themselves, hence creating art for all to enjoy and lastly acts as an additional advertisement for the establishment. Does the word unique mean anything to anyone? May the planter stay, I say. Moreover, I agree that there are in fact other ~paramount~ concerns that should be addressed and ‘planning for growth’ was an excellent topic to suggest. 😉

  8. Pingback: Federal judge says car planter not protected by First Amendment : Newstreamz

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