Frequently Asked Questions
(Please see the Frequently Asked Questions for Solicitors section of this website for the answers to the questions “Who is a solicitor?”, “Who is a commercial solicitor?”, “Who is a noncommercial solicitor?”, and “Do handbill and flyer distributors need to register with the City?”)
Why can’t the City prohibit all solicitation after dark?
Federal cases interpreting the First Amendment have consistently invalidated municipal ordinances that prohibit all soliciting before 9:00 PM.
Why do I have to display a "no soliciting" sign to participate in the registry?
The City will notify solicitors about the existence of the “Do Not Solicit” registry to the extent possible. However, the City will not be able to reach all individuals and groups who might solicit in Newport Beach. Although it is a violation of the NBMC to solicit or deliver handbills to any residence on the “Do Not Solicit” list, the “no soliciting” signs displayed at residences help counter a solicitor’s argument that he or she did not have prior notice that the resident did not want to receive information.
What type of solicitation does a "No Soliciting" sign prevent?
Federal cases interpreting the First Amendment say that if a resident displays a “no soliciting” sign, he or she has provided notice to solicitors and has the right to be free from solicitation at his or her home. The NBMC defines solicitation as a “request for, or offer of, money, services, opinion, support, information or property.” (NBMC section 5.42.020)
1) Commercial solicitation: A "no soliciting" sign serves as notice to all door-to-door solicitors that the occupants of that dwelling do not want to receive unsolicited communication. The sign prohibits commercial solicitation, which includes many offers for the sale of goods or services. Commercial entities paid to raise funds for non-profit organizations are also considered commercial solicitation.
2) Noncommercial solicitation: A "no soliciting" sign also prohibits noncommercial solicitation, which includes political canvassing, religious proselytizing, opinion polling, and volunteers fundraising for non-profit organizations or other non-commercial causes.
3) Handbills: In addition, under the City’s solicitation ordinance (NBMC Chapter 5.42), a “no soliciting” sign prohibits the delivery of handbills (as defined in the NBMC) to that home.
Newspapers and magazines are exempt from the solicitation ordinance. Please contact the publishers or distributors of those publications if you do not wish to receive unsolicited newspapers and magazines.
I already display a "no soliciting" sign, I’m on the “Do Not Solicit” registry, and I still get solicited. I also still get newspapers, magazines, and handbills I don’t want delivered to my home. What can I do?
Solicitors: You can tell the solicitor that they are committing a misdemeanor, and that when the police arrive they will be subject to citation. To report violations in progress to the Newport Beach Police Department, please call its non-emergency dispatch line at (949) 644-3717. However, please be aware that under state law, police officers can issue citations only for infractions and misdemeanors that occur in the officers’ presence. If the solicitation is from a commercial solicitor, you can also ask to see the solicitor’s registration card. If a commercial solicitor is not carrying the card, this violation can also be reported to the Police Department and may present an enforcement opportunity.
Handbills: The NBMC requires that handbills include the name, address and phone number of the person responsible for the handbill. This information is required so that you can contact the person responsible for the handbill and tell them you don’t want to receive any further handbills. After you have notified them, it is a violation of the NBMC if the same person’s handbills are delivered to you again. (See NBMC section 5.42.120.) If there is no contact information on the handbill, or if the same person’s handbills continue to arrive at your home after notification, contact the City’s Code Enforcement Division at (949)644-3215. They may ask you to leave the handbill(s) in place until a Code Enforcement Officer can come to your home and document the presence of the handbill on your property.
Newspapers and magazines: Newspapers and magazines are exempt from the solicitation ordinance. (See NBMC section 5.42.030.E.) However, you are not legally required to receive newspapers and magazines that you do not want, so long as you have given notice to the distributors of those publications that you do not wish to receive deliveries. According to one published federal court decision, you have a private right of trespass if distributors continue to deliver after you have expressed your wish not to receive the materials.
Why is the City asking me to make the first contact with the handbill distributors?
When residents participate directly by expressing their wish not to receive handbills, it strengthens the City’s legal position for defending the ordinance. This is an important consideration for both the City and the residents who want restrictions to be enforceable.
However, the need for residents to make initial contacts may decrease when handbill distributors become aware of the new “Do Not Solicit” list. There will probably be a period of transition, and the City appreciates residents’ help in notifying solicitors and handbill distributors of the “Do Not Solicit” list.
I don’t mind receiving solicitation from (pick your favorite charity or community organization), but I don’t want to be solicited by (pick your least favorite political or religious affiliation.) Why can’t the City prohibit (your least favorite political or religious affiliation)?
The First Amendment does not allow the City to regulate various types of noncommercial speakers differently, or make regulations based on the content of the speech. All City regulations on speech in this setting must be neutral as to the topic or content of the speech itself.
There’s no contact information on the handbills I receive. What should I do?
You may give the handbills to the City’s Code Enforcement Division for follow-up.