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August 29th, 2008
Federal judge orders art car removed or screened

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. MERCURY PHOTO by BRAD ROLLINS,

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. MERCURY PHOTO by BRAD ROLLINS.

From the city of San Marcos

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks has ordered Planet K to remove its car planter or screen it from public view.
Planet K will have 30 days to comply unless the store appeals Judge Sparks’ ruling issued on August 22 following an August 4 bench trial.

“This ruling preserves the ability of the City of San Marcos to enforce state and local junked vehicle rules on an equal basis throughout the city,” said City Attorney Michael Cosentino.

The federal judge dismissed claims by plaintiffs Michael Kleinman and artists Scott Wade and John “Furly” Travis that the City’s junked car rules violated their rights to free speech. The case began January 10 when plaintiff Kleinman, operator of Planet K in San Marcos, contested tickets issued by the city marshal’s office for the placement of a junked vehicle in front of Planet K.

Municipal Court Judge John Burke ruled that the vehicle constituted a junked vehicle and ordered it to be removed or brought into compliance. Federal Judge Sparks’ decision orders Planet K to comply with Judge Burke’s original ruling.

Kleinman did not appeal the Municipal Court ruling, instead bringing a separate civil suit in state court asserting that the city rules violated his right to free speech. The City removed the case to federal court.

On March 7, Judge Sparks ruled that junked vehicle ordinances are permissible and dismissed Kleinman’s claim. At the end of April, Kleiman filed a motion for Judge Sparks to reconsider the March 7 order.

A bench trial was held on August 4, 2008 in federal court in Austin with Judge Sparks taking testimony from Kleinman, Wade, Travis, Dr. Robert Bednar and City Marshal Ken Bell. The judgment was signed August 22, filed with the clerk August 25, and e-mailed to the attorneys handling the case on August 26.

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3 thoughts on “Federal judge orders art car removed or screened

  1. Well, I just have to say that there is some very nice artwork painted on this car, especially of Old Main and Ralph the swimming pig. I encourage everyone to go take a look before the car goes away. I think the car was an inspired and interesting piece of artwork. I also have to say that I wish the City would spend as much time enforcing code in other parts of town. Hopkins Street has some very run down houses that are eyesores on our main thoroughfare.

  2. If you must paint grafitti/artwork, then paint it on the side of the building. Don’t paint it on a junk car when the city ordinances CLEARLY prohibit junk cars! How would you like it if the city let everyone on Hopkins keep 2 or 3 junk cars in their yard? Painted or not, it is still a junk car. Putting lipstick on a pig does not make it a puppy dog!!!

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