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San Diego passes rules curbing protests near schools, churches, health facilities

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(The Center Square) – The city of San Diego is strengthening its ordinances to give people who deal with protestors more rights to not be obstructed or harassed.

The city passed an ordinance May 21 that creates a 100-foot buffer zone around a health care facility, place of worship or K-12 school grounds that restricts protesters from going within eight feet of people unless they give consent. The city also tagged on a “noise limitation” that states protesters can’t make “any disturbing, excessive or offensive noise which causes discomfort or annoyance to any reasonable person.”

The staff memo to the City Council called the existing laws made before the change “outdated.”

“They impose an unreasonable burden on the person seeking to exercise protected rights to access health care or education services or to exercise religion,” the memo stated. “They do not do enough to protect employees, health care providers, patients, students and their guardians, and worshippers from harassment and abuse.”

The city’s ordinance is patterned after a similar Colorado law that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld in the 2000 case Hill vs. Colorado.

The staff memo stated that the state legislature has passed several laws to make California a safe haven for those wanting to have abortions. The state has seen many people come to California for abortions and “gender affirming care,” according to the memo.

Since 2021, the San Diego Police Department has responded to complaints at a Planned Parenthood location in the downtown at least 32 separate times. The police have also received 23 requests to respond to disturbances and trespassing, according to the memo.

The memo stated that Planned Parenthood employees said that protesters had aggressively confronted them, followed staff to their vehicles and taken photos of their license plates and yelled and screamed at them.