The Austin Chronicle

Planet K Sacrifices 'Pursuit of Happiness'

By Jordan Smith, December 16, 2011, News

Is the pursuit of happiness dead? Well, maybe not entirely, but it most certainly is – at least for now – if you're Michael Kleinman, owner of Planet K, and are trying to get your newest store open in the city of Bee Cave.

To refresh: Apparently there are folks in Bee Cave – aka Mall City – who don't care for the adult novelty business and have taken to their municipal government in order to figure out a way to run Klein­man's operation out of town. The city has refused to issue a building permit for a remodel of the old Trading Post site, at Highway 71 and Bee Caves Road, claiming that the art Kleinman has posted on the side – a pastoral Texas scene, complete with longhorn, painted by Kerry Fitzgerald (also known as Kerry Awn) – violates the city's sign ordinance. Moreover, the city has also rebuffed Kleinman's attempts to have the sign designated as fine art in order to exempt it from the ordinance.

So far, legal attempts to get Kleinman to take down the art have failed, but Kleinman did agree last week to remove a newer sign, one with an eagle and the slogan "Pursuit of Happiness," in an attempt to break the logjam that has kept him from finishing the build-out on the store. The sign is down, but the high dudgeon of the city is still on display: While the city recognizes the gesture, Bee Cave officials would now "appreciate the removal of all signs," according to a prepared statement. Sheesh.

The saga of the sign is now moving to federal court for consideration.

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