“St. Pete eyes digital kiosks. Some think they’ll be an eyesore.”

“St. Pete eyes digital kiosks. Some think they’ll be an eyesore.”

Photo: City of St Petersburg

“Mayor Rick Kriseman wants to bring digital information kiosks to downtown. But some business owners and council members aren’t sure those digital displays fit the city’s vibe…

The touch-screen kiosks are a hybrid of a mall directory and a giant smartphone. Depending on the brand, the rectangular devices can stand up to 8 feet tall. They display a mix of information, including events, restaurants, transit maps, public safety alerts — and, yes, advertising.

Some business owners wonder if the kiosks will add another layer of signage to downtown that would distract patrons with flashy advertising — or perhaps even change their minds about perusing local businesses.

‘The small businesses have long expressed concern that there could be an advertisement outside their store promoting a competing business,’ said Tami Simms, former president of the St. Petersburg Downtown Business Association…

City staff briefed council members on the idea during Thursday’s meeting of the council’s budget, finance and taxation committee. Council member Gina Driscoll said she’s already heard concerns from constituents who believe the extra signage will be more of a distraction than an asset.

‘There are so many other ways people can get information about the city,’ Driscoll said. ‘(Business owners) would rather be directly engaged than having something else that prevents someone from walking into a store.’

The kiosks would mix local information with paid-advertising, which would cover their cost and spare taxpayers the expense. Deputy mayor Kanika Tomlin said it’s still unclear how much advertising would be displayed. The amount of ads shown varies between the different companies offering kiosks…

Former City Council member Jeff Danner criticized the proposal on social media prior to Thursday’s meeting. He said the positive aspects of the kiosks — informing locals and visitors about events in the city — could be overshadowed by digital advertising. And what if that advertising was being driven by corporate franchises instead of locally-owned St. Petersburg businesses?

‘We do not want or need to open our beautiful pedestrian corridors to corporate advertising,’ Danner wrote. ‘Keep St Pete the special unique place it is.’

Kriseman, who has used the kiosks in Denver and Kansas City, insisted that the kiosks’ digital information would still be focused sending people to local businesses.

‘If anything, I think it will be great for local businesses,’ Kriseman said. ‘The purpose of this is to communicate … the advertising is almost an afterthought.'”

— Caitlin Johnston,Times staff writer

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Vacant store front window covering: “Miami Beach cataloging storefront vacancies”

Vacant store front window covering: “Miami Beach cataloging storefront vacancies”

Photo: R.E. Miami Beach,City of Miami
“Miami Beach Commissioners are turning their attention to the number of vacant storefronts in the City. Ricky Arriola, Chair of the Commission’s Finance Committee, started a lively conversation on Facebook recently when he posted an article from the New York Post about the idea of a vacancy tax floated by New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio…

Miami Beach Economic Development Manager Michelle Huttenhoff said San Jose recently passed an ordinance calling for a storefront vacancy registry. ‘After 60 days you have to self-register an address as a vacant property and then put forth your plan of action to recruit a new tenant or if there’s a permit’for construction, she said. ‘I believe for them it’s about 300 days if there hasn’t been progress made they invoke an annual registration fee.’In addition to supporting the program, Huttenhoff said the fees also go into a business incentive program to support small businesses…

With a vacancy registry, she said, City staff and Chambers of Commerce can help attract businesses to vacant properties…

Currently, Huttenhoff responded, vacant storefronts are required ‘to have an opaque window covering and then if they don’t have that then they are able to purchase the blue window wraps from the city but they do need to have a covering.”

Sarah Saunders, Assistant Director for Code Compliance, said while officers were helping with the vacancy count, they checked on properties with open violations for compliance and also found new violations on other properties. ‘This is something that we’ve been working on for quite some time,’she said. Code Compliance has done ‘blitzes’ along Washington Avenue to ensure compliance and they continue to monitor the vacant storefronts.”

— Susan Askew, R.E. Miami Beach
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“Garage sale signs go down in Titusville”

“Garage sale signs go down in Titusville”

Video: Fox35 News
“Some residents in Titusville have noticed their garage sale signs missing from street sides.

City representatives said it’s no accident: those signs aren’t supposed to be there. According to city code ‘snipe signs,’ as they’re called, are not allowed on any public property or right of way.

Garage sale signs or other temporary signs can go up on private property with the owner’s permission, but city leaders said if they are placed in the public right of way they can be removed by anyone…”

— Brian Scott, Fox35 News

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“Milton mulls ‘wind sign’ amendment”

“Milton mulls ‘wind sign’ amendment”

Photo: Wiki Commons

“City staffers have examined a law related to business signage, and are considering amending the ordinance to allow businesses to display certain types of signs for an extended period.

The signs in question are wind signs — sometimes known as feather, teardrop or blade flags — which usually comprise a pole and a suspended sign made of flexible material fastened in such a manner as to move in the wind, according to city ordinance 16-3.

Under the current ordinance, wind signs are known as “grand opening wind signs,” as they were only permitted for use from the date of business license issuance for a period not exceeding 30 consecutive days. The temporary permit for these signs is non-renewable.

‘A number of months ago, we had a business owner… put up a couple of wind signs on the property that she leases,’ Planning Director Randy Jorgenson said of how the item was brought to the city’s attention. ‘We allowed wind signs to exist during a grand opening … following that period, approached her to have the signs taken down and she indicated that was one of the few methods of advertising that … would get the attention of the traveling public on Highway 90.’

The Milton Planning Board reviewed the ordinance related to wind signs and recommended approving the addition and deduction of certain language to the Unified Development Code.

Currently, businesses are limited to two signs per street frontage, and a business in a multi-tenant complex is limited to one sign.

Under the projected new ordinance, businesses would be permitted to put up wind signs during four different periods of 30 consecutive days. The $10 permit would be renewable for three more 30-day periods during the first year, and four 30-day periods each subsequent calendar year, allowing businesses to display wind signs a total of 120 days per year.

Wind signs are prohibited outside C1, C2, C3 and SSC-RC zoning districts within Milton city limits. In multi-tenant complexes, the total number of wind signs displayed at a single time must not exceed four.

‘Signage … serves a useful purpose. It provides information to the traveling public,’ Jorgenson said. ‘The other side of that is … signs, if they are proliferated, create a lot of what is commonly called visual clutter. You don’t see what a community consists of for the signs that you’re looking at.

And they can constitute even a public safety hazard, in that they attract the driver’s attention away from what they should be paying attention to.’

While the city was exploring the ordinance change, they didn’t enforce the current ordinance.

According to Jorgenson, the City Council will vote on the item at the next meeting.”

— Alicia Adams,Santa Rosa Press Gazette

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Legal: Campaign Signs “Sign controversy brewing on Holiday Isle”

Legal: Campaign Signs “Sign controversy brewing on Holiday Isle”

Photo: NWF Daily News

“Two residents of Holiday Isle in Destin were cited by the neighborhood’s Holiday Isle Improvement Association this week for violating the organization’s sign codes, but they believe the citations could potentially be politically motivated.

Alan Osborne and Robyn Wehunt both have had posted campaign signs promoting candidates in the past without any issues.

However, both received citations from the Holiday Isle Improvement Association within hours of posting signs promoting charter boat Capt. Gary Jarvis’ campaign for mayor. Jarvis’ opponent in the race is current Mayor Scott Fischer, the director of the Holiday Isle Improvement Association’s board of directors.

‘Selective enforcement is the first step to control a government in socialism,’ said Osborne. ‘When it comes to rules, they either apply to everybody or nobody when your job is to represent the people.’

Wehunt agreed to have a ‘Captain Gary Jarvis for Mayor of Destin’ sign posted in her front yard after a member of Jarvis’ campaign committee asked her permission.

‘I left to pick up my daughter from school and by the time I came home, I found a citation on my front door,’ Wehunt said.

Wehunt and Osbourne both said they have posted Trump signs in their yards in the past without being cited.

The signage rules and regulations for Holiday Isle are posted on the improvement association’s website and state that signs are prohibited in the right of ways, and only ‘For Rent’ or ‘For Sale’ signs shorter than four feet tall and two feet square in any given area are allowed.

Throughout the neighborhood, ‘Scott Fischer Mayor’ signs that include the phrase ‘preserving the heritage of Destin’ are displayed prominently on personal vehicles in driveways. The magnetic signs are within HOA code, according to Fischer, who said that he hasn’t attended any association meetings or read any emails regarding association issues and is not in any position to comment due to the upcoming election…”

— Maddie Rowley, NWF Daily News

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Legal: “Pasco considering easing sign restrictions”

Legal: “Pasco considering easing sign restrictions”

Photo:Orlando Sentinel

“Pasco County, which prohibits digital signs for commercial uses, is poised to ease that restriction.

Kind of. Sort of.

If you own 200 acres or have a 35,000-square-foot building with 2,000 seats or 450 parking spots, you can have a digital sign.

So far, that would be the Pasco County Fairgrounds outside Dade City and the Florida Hospital Center Ice complex in Wesley Chapel.

The county commission is considering amending its sign rules to allow the LED signs that rotate messages for so-called regional attractions, defined as tourist destinations that play host to at least 50 events throughout the year.

The proposed change comes 18 months after the Pasco County Fair Association asked for permission to install a digital sign and a year after the grand opening of the ice center, which used a mobile LED sign company to tout the new complex…

Currently, the county’s land development code bans digital signs that change messages. The rules aren’t applicable to government agencies using a flashing message for a public purpose.

That’s why a few public schools and the Pasco Hernando State College campuses have the brightly lit LED signs.

Commissioner Mike Moore said he wanted the commission to carve out a similar exemption for community development districts as part of the ongoing rewrite of the land development code.

The signs also are visible on businesses in some Pasco cities, including Dade City and Port Richey, which allow the digital signs.

‘I’m good with it,’ said Commissioner Kathryn Starkey, who founded Scenic Pasco and advocated for better sign controls in the county in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Allowing LED signs for regional attractions is the second time the commission has eased its previous hard-line stance on aesthetic controls. Last year, commissioners lifted their ban on all new billboards to allow outdoor advertising companies to swap new LED billboards for traditional signs with static messages…”

— C.T. Bowen, Tampa Bay Times

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