Mero Moment: Wailing Over Rules At City Creek

Now that downtown Salt Lake’s City Creek Center is about to open to the public, the naysayers and Mormon haters are using the opportunity to bash the LDS Church. The City Creek Center is the result of a partnership between the LDS Church and the Taubman company, a developer of high-end malls throughout the nation. The LDS Church has bankrolled City Creek and Taubman is the actual owner and operator of the mall.

Urbanites who hate the obvious and undeniable influence of the LDS Church are disturbed that shopping at the new mall comes with certain rules. Its “rules of conduct” include prohibitions on “any activity or conduct which is detrimental or inconsistent with a first-class, family-oriented shopping center.” These rules of conduct are the same rules that Taubman applies to its 25 other high-end malls in other states. They’re nothing new.

Several years ago the ACLU of Utah sued the City of Salt Lake over the transfer of Main Street between South and North Temple streets. You might recall that the ACLU’s gripe was that the LDS Church, as the owner of that property, would prohibit acts of free speech, such as two men kissing and slobbering over each other in front of the temple. The ACLU lost that fight but it’s not forgotten now that City Creek is ready to open. The attorney who filed the suit against the city, and against the LDS Church, is quoted as saying, “You take a big chunk of downtown and make it a no-speech or limited speech zone and it does have a big effect on livability and the quality of life you’re trying to create.”

I think the miscommunication for this attorney is that the LDS Church isn’t interested in the kind of quality of life that the ACLU ideologues seek. The rules of conduct posted throughout the City Creek mall include the following prohibitions:

No disorderly, intimidating, threatening, dangerous or disruptive conduct. No obscene or insulting language or gestures. No loitering, running, yelling, fighting, throwing of objects, littering, playing radios or other audio devices. No rollerblading, skateboarding or bicycling. No act which could result in the physical harm of persons or damage to property.

You’d think the ACLU wouldn’t have a problem with such reasonable rules of personal conduct. But I’m sure they’d say that even such obvious rules might have a chilling effect on free speech. I’m mean, who’s going to define what’s “disorderly, intimidating, threatening, dangerous or disruptive”? But here are additional rules that are sure to send the Mormon haters over the edge:

No smoking. No consumption of liquor, except in licensed areas. No possession or consumption of illegal substances. No distribution of literature without the prior consent of the mall owner. No animals. And people must be fully clothed.

You know there goes the entire political base of the ACLU if people can’t annoy shoppers, be loud and disruptive, carry their 20 cats around with them and go barefoot!

As it was with the Main Street legal case, so it is with the City Creek Center. What don’t these left-wing ideologues understand about private property? City Creek Center, like Temple Square, is private property. If you don’t like the rules on Temple Square, don’t step foot on church property. If you don’t like the rules of conduct posted by the owners of City Creek Center, don’t shop there. Go shop at The Gateway or the Blue Boutique or the hookah lounge or wherever these ideologues like to gather to discuss important issues of the day, like where to find the best nude yoga lessons in the “gayest city in the nation.”

For Sutherland Institute, I’m Paul Mero. Thanks for listening