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Council Wants to Revise Sign Ordinance

City Council passed the first reading of the sign ordinance but it will be adjusted before the final reading in November.

City Council voted unanimously Thursday to move forward with an ordinance that restricts renovations of non-conforming signs, human signs and helps preserve historic signs. That vote, however, was on a placeholder for changes that will be put into the ordinance during the second reading in November. 

Large portions of the changes to the sign ordinance were met without much opposition, such as preserving historic signs in St. Petersburg. Examples of historic signs include the Kress Building, World Liquors, Banyan Motel, El Cap, Sunken Gardens and the old downtown YMCA. 

The proposed changes would allow historic signs to have "chasing" and "flashing" lights that are not otherwise allowed on any other city signs. Historic signs that are beyond repair, Lazzara said, could also be eligible for replacement with a similar sign that would follow the historic sign codes. 

However, members of the business community and the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce took issue with roughly half the changes because they were not "business friendly."

Human signs, or humans holding signs, was a key issue. In the proposed ordinance those holding signs would be limited to be one per property and on private property only. They would also not be allowed to spin, twirl or otherwise move the sign around. 

Council member Karl Nurse said the city shouldn't regulate "tackiness" but safety. He proposed allowing the human signs to spin/twirl/etc but maybe not so close to the curb. 

Representatives from Liberty Tax Service said passing those restrictions would kill jobs in a bad economy. Michael Bass, who owns his own Liberty Tax Service franchise said the restrictions are unnecessary and not a safety issue.

"If you go too far away from the curb, there efficiency would be diminished, therefore limiting their effectiveness," Bass said. 

Local business owner and city council candidate Dr. David McKalip said the ordinance shouldn't just be amended for final reading, it should be voted down. 

"Vote this thing down in its entirely and go back and get it right," he said. "Respect the First Amendment. 

McKalip said a lot of the public input has been ignored and there is a myth that there is a safety issue at hand.

"I promise you, I will sue this city" if the city passes the strict sign ordinance, McKalip said. 

Chris Steinocher, head of the St. Petersburg Chamber, also took issue with the proposed time change of electronic message signs. Currently the messages can shift every six seconds while the city admin proposal was five minutes. 

He said now allowing human signs and having strict electronic message restrictions would "discourage business from moving here," he said. " ... They will go somewhere else."

Both arguments swayed council enough for council members to ask city staff to rewrite the ordinance regarding human signs and electronic message centers. The new proposal will be voted on in November. 

Council member Jeff Danner said a refined ordinance could be voted on in two weeks. 

"We adopt the ordinance as drafted for tonight, give (staff) two weeks, come back with some clear definitions," in regards to setback with human signs from the curb, dwell time for message on electronic signs and 25 or 50 percent construction for non-conforming signs.  

CJ October 21, 2012 at 09:13 PM
Oh..and you think it doesn't happen? As I said...it is not only a danger to the human sign to be along the road providing a driver distraction...it is also dangerous for the drivers. How can you argue with that? I am not saying it is the single most dangerous thing we as drivers or the human signs themselves....but it is rather risky. So...you would not worry about your own child if he had a job doin this? You keep arguing about this job like it is the kind of work that helps prove Obama is working out. Please. I have no doubt, though, that it is one of the types of jobs he brags about when he talks about ''private sector'' jobs he has created. There are some jobs that we should consdier getting rid of. This one is on that list. You sound just like the person who would also argue it is OK to text and drive, becasue you don't seem to realize we can't do too much to make people safer along our roads here. In my opinion, that makes me a more thoughtful citizen than one from your position on this topic. I don't so much hate human signs. I hate to hear about deaths related to incidents associated with roadways. A man nearly died on the sidewalk in front of my house the tired week I lived here. There was a head-on and he was thrown thru the car window, his car torn in half, and one of the halves spun between my house and my neighbors. He was texting. He could have hit a human sign just as easily. The car half could have hit our house, and we were all in the living room. Think.
CJ October 21, 2012 at 09:31 PM
You think me calling a person dressed in a Statue of Liberty costume or dressed as a piece of Pizza is not the same thing more or less as a clown suit? That's funny...especially since Halloween is this month. Hmmm....''furthering the discussion'' you say? Why don't you get back to trying that. All you want to do is OCD on how you percieve Rider's feeling being hurt. You are what they say...''getting out there''. Your ''garbage man'' comment is a rediculous analogy. Besides...think about if ''Rider'' happened to do that for a living? You should stop and think about how he would prefer to be called a City Appearance Technician...otherwise you would have just hurt his feelings and been impolite to him. Is he paying you to comment for him? He is not paying you enough, but you are giving him his money's worth. I would ''fan'' you, if I could, if for no other reason than because you are making me try and spell better.
CJ October 21, 2012 at 09:33 PM
Rider..have cheryl look that stuff up for you and post it...she's doing everything else for you. I don't think she would like how I did it anyway.
CJ October 21, 2012 at 09:45 PM
...and if you don't reply back to me...that is supposed to hurt me feelings? It does a little, especially since I have finnaly been able to do what you requested of me and spell you name right more often. Without you telling me how to use spell check on this blog...you are going to have to continue to excuse my typos, grammar, etc. I know it must be hard for you to do. I bet you were one of those hall monitors...the person who made people keep to the right in the school hallways...or the person who made a list of the bad kids while the teacher was out of the room. You would have needed a rubber stamp with my name on it. If you change your mind and bless me with a reply, maybe we can talk about the ''other part'' of the article...Historical..or Non-Historical signage...to ''further the discussion''...which you so obviously care about.
CJ October 21, 2012 at 09:49 PM
me feelings on the matter is that I nose what I nose and that's all I nose and I yam what I yam

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