NEW ORLEANS -- The city of New Orleans is switching gears when it comes to enforcing its "Clean Zone" regulations ahead of the Super Bowl.
Host cities are asked to adopt the temporary rules to help control activities that conflict with NFL sponsorships. However, a group of concerned citizens filed a lawsuit against the city about the zone, and on Monday a judge ruled in their favor.
"There was no city permitting necessary prior to today for us to do our business and operate with signage hung throughout the city in front of properties that were for sale," said realtor Andrew Grafe, who was one of three plaintiffs concerned about the city's "Clean Zone."
Simply put, the zone spells out how commercial signage and advertising can be used in much of downtown, the French Quarter and CBD.
The original ordinance was troubling to Grafe and two other plaintiffs -- a community activist and pastor Troy Bohn -- who regularly preaches along Bourbon Street. The trio teamed up with ACLU of Louisiana to file a lawsuit citing concerns over their First Amendment rights.
"I was hoping to get the terms sort of defined a little bit more clearly and keep everyone's best interests at heart, but at the same time let the city and/or the NFL know that we are private property owners or private residents that live here full-time, all the time, not just for this Monday until next Monday," said Grafe about the lawsuit.
On Monday an agreement was reached between both parties.
"We got the city to clarify that it not about restricting individual private speech and non-commercial speech. And we got the city to relax the restrictions on the content requirements of the advertisements and the manner in which businesses would be allowed to advertise," said ACLU Louisiana Senior Staff Attorney Justin Harrison.
The ACLU of Louisiana says the zone will now only apply to commercial activity. It allows for general advertising but still bans off-site and mobile advertisements without approval from the city or NFL. Harrison also says advertisements and signs will no longer be required to have the 60 percent NFL look and branding.
"Obviously we said from the beginning that there may have been some mischaracterizations as to what the Clean Zone was. It has always been about things that we permit. Things like signage, tents, and structures," said city of New Orleans Spokesman Ryan Berni.
In response to the settle agreement, the city of New Orleans says the "Clean Zone" is not a new concept. In the past, the city has approved similar ordinances for big events that come to town.
Berni says the Clean Zone is also required by all Super Bowl host cities. During last year's final four championship, the city had to crack down on guerrilla marketing.
Just another reason Berni says the zone is so important.
"One of the things we do want to make sure that happens is that competing sponsors aren't having undue influence or not doing rogue advertising or mobile vending," said Berni.
The city's finance department and the New Orleans Police and Fire departments will be enforcing the clean zone from Jan. 28 to Feb. 5.