New Orleans, La. Ordinance 14,538 Comm'n Council Series § 6, (as amended by New Orleans, La. Ordinance 15,085 Comm'n Council Series) forbids the proprietor of any building in the Vieux Carre to maintain a display sign, or advertising sign, without first obtaining a permit from the Vieux Carre Commission. The ordinance prescribes the maximum size and the details of the various kinds of advertising signs which may be displayed. The maximum area of any sign or signboard allowed to be displayed in the Vieux Carre, according to the ordinance, is 8 square feet if only one side or surface of the sign is displayed, or 16 square feet if both sides are displayed.
Defendant property owner was prosecuted on a charge of violating a municipal ordinance, by displaying on his premises a large advertising sign without the permission of the commission and in violation of the statute. The trial court granted his demurrer and dismissed the action. On appeal, the court annulled the judgment, overruled the demurrer, and remanded.
Did the ordinance deprive defendant of use of his property without due process of law and denied equal protection of the laws?
The court held that the owner's offense was not only that he failed to obtain or apply for permission but also that the size of the sign exceeded the maximum size allowed by the ordinance, and hence could not be permitted by the commission. The ordinance prescribed uniform requirements or standards for the erection of such signs and there was nothing arbitrary or discriminating in forbidding any property owner to display an unusually large sign upon his premises because the purpose of the ordinance was not only to preserve the old buildings themselves, but to preserve the antiquity of the whole area. Preventing or prohibiting eyesores in such a locality was within the police power and scope of this municipal ordinance.