A Noisy Early-Morning Demonstration Brings Residential Privacy and Free Speech Issues to the Fore in Del Mar

Yesterday, a noisy and very early demonstration on Ocean Front woke up a Beach Colony neighborhood around 6:30 am, with a bullhorn and other noisemakers adding decibels to the demonstrators’ loud chants.


The demonstration was in support of a strike that began on Nov. 14, authorized by four United Auto Worker (UAW) bargaining units at UCSD who represent workers including postdoctoral scholars, academic employees including teaching assistants, readers, tutors, and academic and graduate student researchers. Approximately 48,000 UCSD workers are participating in the strike.


Luke Fairbanks, interviewed by Betty Wheeler for the Sandpiper during the protest, asserted that UCSD has bargained in bad faith, with USCD paying low wages to workers like him who provide the “legwork” that keeps the university going while charging high housing rents that result in 70% or more of their income going for rent.

Photo: Betty Wheeler

The demonstration took place in front of the home of Gary Jacobs, who serves as one of 46 board members of the UCSD Foundation, which is an official UCSD entity, but is not UCSD’s governing body.


Neighbors awakened by the pre-7:00 am ruckus are asking whether there are ways to protect residential neighborhoods from the disruptive impact they experienced. The demonstration, which appeared to focus on one individual and one residence as its target, highlights the friction between rights of privacy and free expression. While broad bans on expressive conduct in residential neighborhoods are generally found to violate the First Amendment, courts have upheld some reasonable time, place and manner restrictions that are narrowly-tailored and content neutral, while striking down overly-broad bans or restrictions. A 1988 U.S. Supreme Court decision upheld a ban on picketing that is targeted at a particular residence.


The questions hanging in the air on Wednesday: should Del Mar restrict or ban picketing targeted at a particular residence? How should the City balance the rights of residential privacy and free expression?