Photo by Sam Hodgson
David Millette of Chula Vista received a letter from Bob Filner saying he's allowed to sell goods on the beachfront in Ocean Beach.
So much for that mayoral permission slip.
San Diego’s Park and Recreation department has informed Chula Vista artist David Millette that the personal letter from Mayor Bob Filner granting him permission to sell his handmade hemp jewelry at city parks and beaches is no longer valid.
Filner granted Millette permission to sell his goods, through a letter to the city’s Park and Recreation director Stacey LoMedico, after the artist approached him with the issue at an April “meet the mayor” event at City Hall.
Now, with Filner no longer in office, LoMedico wrote another letter reversing the special approval.
“This letter is to notify you that you do not presently have the right to sell items on City of San Diego parks and beaches,” the letter says.
The letter, dated Sept. 6, also says LoMedico received a legal opinion from mid-July from City Attorney Jan Goldsmith saying the Filner letter conflicted with sections of the city’s municipal code, which outline a procedure to obtain a Park Use Permit.
Millette said a lifeguard attempted to write him a ticket earlier Friday, but left with a promise to be back “within an hour.”
At the time, Millette wasn’t aware of LoMedico’s letter. A spokeswoman for interim Mayor Todd Gloria said she was unaware enforcement of the revoked letter had begun.
“I’m going to be here selling and hopefully get a ticket from them, because it’s a First Amendment rights issue and I’ll win in court,” Millette said.
Millette, who was approached just after Filner’s official exit from office by a member of the Ocean Beach Main Street Association telling him his letter was no longer valid, said he’s reached out to the American Civil Liberties Union about representing him in court if he receives a ticket.
“I also talked to one of Gloria Allred’s associates, and they said it isn’t something they normally handle but to keep them updated if I get a ticket,” he said.
Allred is representing a number of women who have accused Filner of sexual harassment.
“I figured she was already dealing with something with Filner, so this would maybe be something they’d handle.”
When Millette initially approached Filner to ask for permission to sell his jewelry, he brought with him a 2010 district court ruling that found Los Angeles’ ordinance regarding street vendors and performers was a First Amendment violation.
Filner told Millette he was right, though the mayor later said he thought he was dealing with a special circumstance and didn’t realize there was a constitutional issue, and later set up a meeting with street artists to consider rewriting the city’s municipal code to address the issue.
Last year, the Unified Port of San Diego rewrote its restrictions on where and when street artists could perform or sell their work in order to comply with recent court cases.
Denny Knox from the Ocean Beach Main Street Association said she hadn’t heard any update on the issue since Filner left office.
“Honestly, I just want someone to tell us what’s going on, because if it’s sort of against the law, but it’s not against the law, then what is it?” she said. “I have a lot of people here who, if it isn’t against the law, they’d like to not get permits and pay sales taxes, too, so just tell me what it is.”
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