St. Pete Chamber Opposing Draconian Sign Ordinance Proposal

chamberThe St. Petersburg City Council is working to stop business growth by interfering with the legitimate use of electronic and other signs guaranteed under the First Amendment.  They St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce is not taking that sitting down and they are actively opposing these efforts, much to the relief of small business owners. The City is seeking to stop moving text and images on electronic messaging centers (digital signs). In addition the want to require that messages stay up for at least 5 minutes and that a subsequent message can’t be related to the first. They also seek to ban sign “spinning” and to require businesses that are renovating to replace their bigger old signs with newer small signs.  The Chamber is calling on its members to send a message to City Council to stop their overbearing regulations.  These sign ordinances are sure to interfere with business growth and will also hurt consumers who will be denied information on the lowest prices or new services or products they want. The motivation behind the City’s approach appears to be to serve the interests of a small group of “preservationists” who have some sort of magical control over these elected officials who voted 8-0 to move the ordinances forward last week. The City claimed they had heard much feedback from the community, but did not change a SINGLE word of the ordinances drafted in May despite extensive feedback from citizen to stop trampling on their rights.  The fact that a small group of preservationists can use the power of a governmental body to deny first amendment rights in St. Petersburg should cause grave concern to its citizens.  It seems the only thing that will be preserved is high unemployment and economic stagnation.

Citizens are encouraged to contact City Council members and tell them to vote NO on these ordinances and amend them to ensure that they protect our free speech rights, not trample upon them. You can contact them by email at council@stpete.org and Mayor@stpete.org.  Also, come to the Council meeting at 9 am Thursday morning at 175 5th St. N. in City Hall. The Chamber released the following information to its members.


 Your Sign is at Risk!

 

The Chamber takes an active role in advocating for our chamber members. It is our duty to represent the business community and do our part to preserve this beautiful city we cannot accomplish this without help from you.

The City has been reviewing the sign ordinance for about 18 months. They are proposing a list of amendments that will adversely impact businesses’ ability to express themselves with their signage. We need your help to inform city council that major regulation changes in this economy is devastating for small businesses. Here are some of the most impactful amendments being adopted Thursday November 1st at 9:00am:

City Staff Recommendations

St. Pete Chamber’s Position

Electronic Message Center Signs

● Prohibit in historic and residential zoning

● Allow variances

Prohibit EMC’s from signage that does not meet current code

● Increase dwell time to 1 minutes

● Allow images, animation and/or sequencing of messages

● Keep 6 second dwell time

● Prohibit message sequencing

● Establish maximum brightness

● Prohibit variances

● Increase fines for EMC violations

Non-Conforming Signs

● Any repairs or alterations to a non-conforming sign will be counted toward a cumulative 25% threshold. If the threshold is met, the sign must be brought into full compliance with the current code.

● Do not support cumulative threshold, keep current code of 25% (non-cumulative)

 

● Building Improvements in excess of 50% require sign to be brought to code

 

● Prohibits any variances

● Recommend encouraging improvements, increase to 75% of property improvements before requiring sign to be brought to code

 

● Allow variances in specific circumstances

 

Abandoned Signs

 

● Remove non-conforming signs at owners expense if property vacant for 6 months

 

● Allow property owners 12 months minimum to secure new tenant or owner

 

Hurry, This Thursday November 1st, City Council will make changes. You can help by:

  1. Calling City Council at (727) 893-7117
  2. Send Emails to City Council at Council@stpete.org and/or the Mayor at Mayor@Stpete.org
  3. Show up in person on Thursday November 1st at 9:00am for a Public Hearing and Vote on the ordinance.

Contact us now to learn more:

Jillian Lusk

St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce

(727)388-0682

Jlusk@stpete.com

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