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October 1, 2022
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Los Gatos passes no-picketing ordinance

Protesters target mayor and vice mayor’s house during Zoom council meeting

Tuesday night’s once-again all-digital Council meeting was a parade of residents, elected officials and non-governmental organization representatives expressing solidarity with Mayor Marico Sayoc’s family—in the face of recent disruptive attendee behavior—and speaking in support of public decorum.

A staffer from Congresswoman Anna Eshoo’s office invoked Abraham Lincoln and the Gettysburg address on the federal lawmaker’s behalf; a representative from the City of San Jose shared a letter signed by 19 local legislators condemning divisive language; Assemblymember Evan Low told Mayor Sayoc “You are beautiful” and urged her to “Stay strong,” as protesters chanted outside her house.

Later, Vice Mayor Rob Rennie said protesters had shown up outside his home, too.

“I’m hoping the police are following that,” he said.

Sayoc urged officials to text each other with details about the crowd’s location.

“We want to make sure everyone is safe tonight,” Sayoc said, before moving into the emergency resolution.

That resolution was a late addition to Council’s agenda, drawn up to outlaw “targeted picketing” at local homes.

“The Mayor has requested that the Town Council consider the adoption of an ordinance prohibiting targeted picketing within 300 feet of the residence of a particular person,” Town Attorney Robert Schultz wrote in an Oct. 18 report. “Picketing activity that is targeted at a particular residence may harass and intimidate such occupants, is inherently and unreasonably offensive to and intrusive upon the right to privacy in the home, and may cause the occupants of such home to experience great emotional distress.”

This sort of protesting creates a “captive audience” since occupants of a residence can’t easily go somewhere else to get away from the messaging, he added.

“Adopting this ordinance will protect residents from being individually targeted while not prohibiting other lawful demonstrations,” he wrote. “Ordinances similar to this have been adopted by many cities in the state of California and around the country and have withstood legal challenge.”

One public commenter was immediately muted when it became clear she was about to start talking about the mayor’s husband confronting protesters at the previous meeting.

Angelica Ramos-Allen, president of the National Women’s Political Caucus of Silicon Valley, said she supported such a ban on picketing in front of residences, and noted other municipalities had enacted similar ordinances.

Councilmember Maria Ristow moved approval of the emergency measure.

“I know that nobody should be terrorized in their own home,” she said. “No one’s family should be subjected to that.”

Councilmember Mary Badame seconded the motion.

It was approved unanimously.

According to Sgt. David Nylander with the Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Department, no arrests were made following the protest at Sayoc’s home.

Drew Penner
Drew Penner is an award-winning Canadian journalist whose reporting has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Good Times Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times, Scotts Valley Press Banner, San Diego Union-Tribune, KCRW and the Vancouver Sun. Please send your Los Gatos and Santa Cruz County news tips to [email protected]

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