Thanh Thuy Vo owns a “CyberCafe” where individuals rent Internet computer time to send and receive e-mail messages, as well as research various topics. Within two years, the number of CyberCafes in Vo’s community increased from 3 to 23.

The police chief advised the city manager of a major increase in criminal gang activity near these CyberCafes, including a murder. He suggested a new ordinance regulating CyberCafes.

Purchase Bob Bruss reports online.

In response, the city council enacted an ordinance requiring special CyberCafe permits based on “general welfare” criteria, including requirements for a curfew for minors, employee hiring criteria, and security guard requirements.

Vo and other CyberCafe owners challenged the city ordinance, requesting an injunction against enforcement. They argued the ordinance violates their constitutional First Amendment free speech rights, and the rights of their customers.

If you were the judge would you rule the new city ordinance requiring special permits for CyberCafes violates the First Amendment free speech rights of the business owners and patrons?

The judge said yes!

There is a long line of precedent cases that have held unconstitutional city ordinances governing the issuance of licenses or permits to conduct First Amendment activities where city administrators are granted excessive discretion to deny or grant a license, the judge began.

This city ordinance is too vague because it allows the zoning administrator to approve or disapprove a CyberCafe special permit without objective standards, he continued.

However, under a city’s police power it has discretion to set by local ordinance reasonable objective standards, such as a curfew for minors, business employment criteria, and even security guard requirements, the judge ruled.

Although a city ordinance can establish reasonable business operation standards, it cannot require special permits that allow or disallow a business, which involves constitutional First Amendment free speech rights of the owners and patrons, the judge concluded.

Based on the 2004 California Court of Appeal decision in Vo v. City of Garden Grove, 9 Cal.Rptr.3d 257.

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center


What’s your opinion? Send your Letter to the Editor to

Show Comments Hide Comments
Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Only 3 days left to register for Inman Connect Las Vegas before prices go up! Don't miss the premier event for real estate pros.Register Now ×
Limited Time Offer: Get 1 year of Inman Select for $199SUBSCRIBE×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription