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Phoenix turns off Christmas lights for home owner

November 22, 2017

Phoenix—The City of Phoenix has effectively forced one of Phoenix’s most famous Christmas displays to go dark in 2017, and the Goldwater Institute and Rose Law Group, pc are trying to get these legendary lights get turned back on.

Lee Sepanek, the owner of the “Arcadia Christmas House,” has decorated his home with Christmas lights for more than 30 years, handing out hot chocolate to the countless onlookers who come to see his display. But, the City of Phoenix met with Sepanek this fall, threatening to shut down his display and ordering him to stop offering hot chocolate and cookies to visitors if he did not comply with a labyrinth of regulatory requirements. The city’s vague red tape forced Sepanek to make the difficult decision to not set up his famous lights this year. The unreasonable requirements set on Mr. Sepanek and his Christmas display are consistent with a larger problem happening throughout Arizona: Overregulation is making it increasingly difficult to operate any sort of home-based business, which limits people’s property rights and their ability to be entrepreneurs. Although Mr. Sepanek is not operating a business, the City claims he is, even though he offers the hot chocolate for donations.

The Goldwater Institute along with co-counsel from Rose Law Group, pc sent a letter to the City of Phoenix, on Sepanek’s behalf, seeking clarification on what he needs to do to bring back his light display and his hot chocolate and cookies for visitors at future holiday seasons.

“This year, Mr. Sepanek’s Christmas display has fallen victim to vague, convoluted overregulation from the City of Phoenix,” Goldwater Institute Director of National Litigation Jon Riches said. “We are asking the City to say with specificity what Mr. Sepanek must do in order to continue a beloved Valley tradition. We shouldn’t need the government’s permission in order to celebrate Christmas, or any holiday. And we hope that in years to come, this holiday display so many Phoenicians and Arizonans have come to love will return.”


About the Goldwater Institute

The Goldwater Institute drives results by working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and strengthen the freedom guaranteed to all Americans in the constitutions of the United States and all 50 states. With the blessing of its namesake, the Goldwater Institute opened in 1988. Its early years focused on defending liberty in Barry Goldwater’s home state of Arizona.  Today, the Goldwater Institute is a national leader for constitutionally limited government respected by the left and right for its adherence to principle and real world impact. No less a liberal icon than the New York Times calls the Goldwater Institute a “watchdog for conservative ideals” that plays an “outsize role” in American political life.



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