Supervisors’ vote allows for temporary protest area restrictions

In the event of protests in unincorporated San Diego County, the county’s Chief Administrative Officer or the CAO’s designee will have the authority to designate temporary area restrictions which include the prohibition of items which might be used as weapons.

The measure was passed as an urgency ordinance Sept. 26, and since four votes are necessary for passage of an urgency ordinance, the Board of Supervisors took the unprecedented step of having Supervisor Greg Cox vote by teleconference. The 4-0 vote reflects Cox’s teleconference vote and the absence of Ron Roberts, who along with Cox was in Washington, DC, that day.

“We want to make sure they’re peaceful demonstrations in conformance with local law,” Cox said.

The ordinance only applies to unincorporated San Diego County. A notice of the restrictions would be posted at the temporary restriction area and on the county’s website at least 24 hours in advance.

The restrictions do not preclude peaceful protests. “You don’t need to bring weapons to do so,” said Ron Lane, the county’s deputy chief administrative officer for the county’s Public Safety Group.

The prohibited potential weapons include but are not limited to knives, daggers, shields, poles, sticks, dowels, baseball bats, pepper spray, axes and axe handles, tasers, torches, clubs, bricks, rocks, and firearms.

“Law enforcement would be able to limit or prohibit items that could be used as weapons,” said Supervisor Dianne Jacob. “We’re also safeguarding our rights of free speech and assembly.”

A board member of a California public agency may vote by teleconference if he or she can be heard at the primary location of the meeting and if everybody at the teleconferencing location can hear the board members, staff presentations, and public comments at the primary location.

A notice of the meeting must have been posted at the teleconferencing location at least 72 hours in advance, the teleconferencing location must be open to the public, and any member who wishes to speak at the teleconferencing location is allowed to do so.

“It’s a fairly cumbersome process,” said County Counsel Tom Montgomery.

“It’s not something we are able to do on a regular basis.”

Cox cast his teleconferencing vote at the United States Chamber of Commerce Building on E Street in Washington.

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