Summarized by Kent Larsen
New Lawsuit Challenges Plaza Sale
Salt Lake Tribune 14Apr00 N1
By Rebecca Walsh: Salt Lake Tribune
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- The Utah ACLU has filed a second lawsuit
against Salt Lake City challenging the city's sale of a one block
stretch of Main street to the LDS Church. The lawsuit, filed
yesterday, claims that city leaders ignored their own law in
permitting the sale of the property.
ACLU attorney Stephen Clark says that the City Planning Commission
outlined in March 1999 15 criteria for the deal. One of the criteria
mandated that "there be no restrictions on the use of this space that
are more restrictive than is currently permitted at a public park."
But when the criteria were recognized by the City Council, that
criteria was missing. Clark says this invalidates the ordinance that
the sale was based on, "It's a very simple proposition," Clark says.
"If we're right about the construction of the ordinance, the street
can't be closed and the pedestrian plaza can't be built based on the
The sale was first proposed by former Mayor Deedee Corradini and LDS
Church President Gordon B. Hinckley. The ACLU's challenge to the
sale, based on complaints by the National Organization for Women and
members of the First Unitarian Church, among others, is because of a
list of rules written by city and church attorneys, and agreed to by
the City Council, in which "illegal, offensive, indecent, obscene,
vulgar, lewd or disorderly speech, dress or conduct" was prohibited
on the plaza while the LDS Church could play music or speeches, pass
out pamphlets and kick out offenders.
The other lawsuit filed by the ACLU claims that these restrictions
are unconstitutional. But Clark says that this new lawsuit could make
the challenge to the constitutionality moot, because the missing
Planning Commission requirement invalidates the sale.
City Attorney Roger Cutler says that Clark is grasping at straws in
the latest lawsuit. "That's absurd," Cutler says. "Anyone who knows
anything about city government knows the Planning Commission is an
advisory, not a binding, body."