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Beverly Hills News – City Settles Lawsuit over Campaign Disclosure and First Amendment With Hilton

Posted: Tuesday, August 2, 2016 – 3:29 PM

By Victoria Talbot

The City of Beverly Hills has reached a settlement agreement with Residents for The Beverly Hills Garden and Open Space Initiative over the City’s disclosure ordinance regarding the Hilton Initiative for the Nov. 8 ballot. The agreement affects all advertising for the initiative and associated campaign disclosures.

The Federal lawsuit, “raised a serious question whether the Ordinance violates the First Amendment as applied to certain of Plaintiff’s intended political advertisements,” according to the stipulation. 

The agreement enjoins the City from “taking any steps to enforce Beverly Hills Municipal Code 1-8-7.” 

The initiative’s advertising will now resemble most other ads with regards to disclosure.

Disclosure will include, “Paid for by Yes on ___, Residents for The Beverly Hills Garden & Open Space Initiative, with major funding by Oasis West Realty LLC/The Beverly Hilton. See for campaign funding information,” rather than the onerous language proposed by the City Attorney.

On ads which require a disclaimer, in 8-point type (vs. 15-point, which  is what the ordinance requires), the following disclaimer is required by the State’s California Political Reform Act: “An initiative measure to amend the Beverly Hilton Specific Plan to combine the 8 story Wilshire condominium building with the 18 story Santa Monica condominium building resulting in one 26 story building with additional height and to replace the Wilshire building with 1.7 acres of garden open space that is generally open to the public subject to reasonable restrictions determined by the property owner.”

This message will no longer be required for radio/audio under 60 seconds (would have been more than half the ad), for television/video/electronic media, for telephone calls live or prerecorded, for Print Media as the term is used in the state law – smaller than 60 square inches, or for promotional items, such as coffee cups. 

The two parties released the following joint statement:

“The City of Beverly Hills and Residents for The Beverly Hills Garden and Open Space Initiative agreed to settle their lawsuit over the application of the City’s campaign disclosure ordinance to political advertisements. 

On July 25, 2016, Residents for The Beverly Hills Garden and Open Space Initiative filed lawsuit in Federal Court challenging on First Amendment grounds the City of Beverly Hills Ordinance imposing disclosure requirements on campaign advertising beyond those required by California state law. 

 Rather than expend time and resources litigating the matter in court, the parties have agreed on terms of a mutually acceptable preliminary injunction that clarifies and modifies the operation of the ordinance. 

 The revised rules will apply to all advertisements for the November 8, 2016 Beverly Hills ballot measure election — both for and against the proposed initiative.  After the election, the City will work with all Beverly Hills residents to revise the City’s campaign advertising ordinance. 

 This settlement does not affect the legal challenge brought in state court challenging the City’s proposed ballot question relating to the Beverly Hills Garden and Open Space Initiative.”

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