Golden Gate University Law Review


Katia Lazzara


The First Amendment to the United States Constitution protects freedom of speech. Courts categorize government restrictions of speech as either content based or content neutral. Content-based regulations restrict speech because of the specific idea or message conveyed. Because content-based regulations greatly restrain a person's right to free speech, they must serve a compelling government interest and be narrowly tailored to accomplish that interest. Content-neutral regulations, on the other hand, regulate conduct that indirectly impacts speech. In order to pass muster, content-neutral regulations must advance a significant state interest unrelated to the suppression of speech and not substantially burden more speech than necessary to further that interest. Content-neutral restrictions often regulate the time, place, and manner of protected speech. Zoning ordinances enacted to limit the time, place, and manner for certain categories of speech are therefore generally characterized as content-neutral restrictions. In determining the validity of zoning regulations that restrict adult entertainment, the courts apply the intermediate scrutiny standard. In Alameda Books v. City of Los Angeles, (hereinafter, "City") the Ninth Circuit addressed the issue of whether a Los Angeles zoning ordinance regulating adult businesses constituted a legitimate content-neutral regulation.