Hair-brained St. Petersburg Regulations will kill businesses/hurt economy and Taxpayers

stopregulatoryquagmiresmallThe politicians at the helm of the City of St. Petersburg are clearly one of the many reasons why our local economy is doing so poorly. The ever increasing tax and fee burden imposed on the citizens have drained the economy of private money.  The “visionary” dreams of odd looking pier structures and “midtown revitalization” through borrowing are creating a philosophically bankrupt set of public policies. They have worked to prevent the wholesome growth of businesses by banning food trucks and offering codes compliance guidelines that increase the cost of construction.  Now they want to further disable our economy by creating limits on digital signs, handheld signs and older signs. They will also require local businesses to hire workers that may be less qualified and cost more –  just as long as they live in our own city. These measures will further cripple small businesses and larger enterprises in an already struggling economy. No reason for these proposals are offered except “aesthetic” sensibility and “social justice”. Those wanting to stop these proposals should let City Council members and the Mayor know at or or come to the City Council meeting on Thursday 10/18 at 6 pm.

The proposed sign ordinance will continue the city’s stance against electronic messaging.  The city failed to approve digital billboards along I-275 last year.  They issued warnings to a local veterinarian for displaying pictures on his digital sign as well. The new laws will prevent signs from changing their message more than every 5 minutes.  Businesses that buy a property with an older, larger sign will have to transform it to a small one meeting newer ordinances if they renovate over 50% of the building’s value. The text displayed cannot move.  The City is granting itself a different standard since it has signs that change every two seconds, which is similar to signs on the highway as well from the State Department of Transportation.  Business will no longer be able to have sign holders move any signs they hold.  They will be forced to stand like statues, interfering with the effectiveness of the signs and threatening jobs for lower income people.  One wonders if the police will be assigned the task of evaluating sign movement and “luminosity” of signs (also limited). These are the sort of short-sighted regulations that will hurt small businesses and consumers not to mention ignore the rights protected by the First amendment of the constitution.

The city also wants to prevent local businesses from hiring people it deems to be the most qualified and the best value.  In an attempt to “create more jobs”, the city will require that a business receiving a contract with the city for more than $2 million (think road and construction jobs) will need to hire a worker who resides in St. Petersburg.  This so-called “local hiring preference”will deny a job to a qualified person who lives on the other side of the street from the city. It will require that people who may not be as qualified get hired as part of a quota system, possibly affecting the quality of work. It will prevent price competition for labor, causing labor costs to go up. The end effect will be lower quality work for a hire price.  The taxpayers will bear this burden. They can thank the misguided “social justice agenda” of groups like “FAST” (Faith and Action for Strength Together).  They have been pushing this agenda for many years.

This city has the opportunity to become a place of high employment, lower cost of living and better quality of life. Once the citizens stop these sorts of nonsensical regulations, lower taxes and shrink government, this economy can become “unchained” and really produce prosperity for all.


2 Replies:

  1. David Simpson

    When proposed regulations on hiring practices or signage comes up in council meetings that can directly affect the way businesses operate,it should pass some kind of outside litmus test. The test should determine the real need to regulate versus the unintended consequences or harm it might pose. I would suggest both of these measures would not make the grade.
    I have a pet peeve that is not relevant to this issue but one that I assume every small business large or small has to operate under. This is another cost that involves swiftmud and retention ponds throughout the city and county. Why does a business have to pay a Florida engineer anywhere from 200$-1000$ to inspect a retention pond every nineteen months to see if their draining properly? This seems like an undue burden to place on the small business every year and a half. If it must be done.. Why not every five years.

    McKalip Responds: Great Point David, I will look into that as well!

  2. Bill Heyen

    When every business is allowed to have any size and type sign they want, it can be overall bad for businesses. There is a “my sign needs to be bigger, brighter, and flash more” mentality that just makes for a messy and confusing roadway. Digital signs belong on the interstate which is why I worked so hard to get them there. Billboards and the “bigger is better” signs need to be oppossed to make the community a more attractive place that enhances commerce and more brings more business. human signs should be allowed as they ad interest to the landscape and are sometimes the only way small businesses can advertise and provide jobs.

    Dr. McKalip responds. 
    Bill, you really are expressing your concern about an aesthetic sense. You also are ignoring the fact that the phenomenon you describe is not happening in neighboring towns with more liberal sign laws.  Look at Gulport, Pinellas Park, Clearwater.  There are tasteful and highly informative signs there for consumers that grow businesses…

    In the end, it is not appropriate for a city to tell businesses how to be successful, it is up to the business to take the risks and reap the rewards or losses.  Certainly making sign laws MORE restrictive is the wrong direction.

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