LEHI — After the Orem City Council moved a month ago to prohibit targeted protests outside private residences, the Lehi and Spanish Fork city councils did the same during separate meetings on Tuesday.
The new laws come after some Utahns, opposed to restrictions related to the coronavirus and mask mandates, protested outside the private homes of Gov. Gary Herbert, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, and Drs. Joseph Miner and Angela Dunn of the Utah Department of Health earlier this fall.
The new ordinances ban "targeted residential picketing," which is defined by both cities as protests directed at a specific residence, or occupants of that residence, within 100 feet of its property line.
Lehi City Councilwoman Katie Koivisto was the only member of either council to vote against the ordinances. "I just feel like ... you're stepping on constitutional boundaries right there," Koivisto said.
Offering his opinion, Lehi Mayor Mark Johnson said he supported the ordinance.
"I'm just afraid, without something like this, people will continue to push the limits — limits beyond what is their constitutional right," Johnson said. "Nobody's going to argue with the right to protest. But you've got to realize when you're protesting, you're protesting a public persona. When you take it to somebody's home, that's a little bit different."
Koivisto said there are already laws in place against rioting that would cover any residential protest that became violent. "I just don't want to be able to take those rights away from individuals," she said. "If they have the right to be on the street in front of my house, they should be able to do that (protest)."
During the Spanish Fork meeting, Police Chief Steven Adams said that similar to local enforcement of the statewide mask mandate, officers' first response to protest violators would not be tickets or arrests but to "separate and educate."
"But without having something like this in our books and on ordinance," Adams said, "we have nothing to back (us) up if we need to go take further steps."
In Spanish Fork, residents who violate the new ordinance are "subject to receiving an administrative notice of violation and handling the matter administratively." Those who want to challenge the violation, or don't want to "resolve the matter administratively," will receive a court citation; a first citation will result in an infraction, and a second will be a class B misdemeanor.
Violations of the ordinance in Lehi will be a class B misdemeanor.