San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

October 6th, 2010
U.S. Supreme Court declines to hear Planet K case

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The junk car turned planter once located outside Planet K on Interstate-35 in San Marcos. File photo.

STAFF REPORT

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a petition Monday for review of the Planet K court case that sought to overturn a San Marcos ordinance and state law banning junked vehicles from public view.

Planet K owner Michael Kleinman and local artists brought the case after Planet K was cited in November 2007 for violating the city’s junk vehicle ordinance for placing a junked car filled with cactus plants at its location, 910 North Interstate-35.

In a January 2008 trial, Municipal Court of Record Judge John Burke ordered the store’s owners to remove the vehicle.

Planet K’s appeals resulted in further rulings in the city’s favor in the United States District Court in Austin and at the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans.

In March 2010, City Marshal Ken Bell sent a letter to the owners giving them 30 days to remove the vehicle. In response, owners attempted to cover the vehicle, which, Planet K owners argued, was a planter. On April 23, the city had the car removed to a junkyard in San Marcos. Later that same day, Planet K arranged to have the junked vehicle moved to one of its stores in Austin.

Planet K then the United States Supreme Court to review the case.

“This final victory supports a citywide effort by the marshal’s office to eliminate junked vehicles as a threat to public health and safety,” said San Marcos Interim City Manager Laurie Moyer. “The significance of this case is the strong message it sends to junk vehicle owners and property owners — and that is you can’t thwart the city’s enforcement efforts by painting a slogan or symbols on the side of a smashed car and claim First Amendment rights.”

Under city and state law, junked vehicles are subject to removal for destruction if not completely enclosed in a building or screened by means of a heavy duty contour-fitting cover so that no part of the vehicle, except, the tires is exposed to public view.

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