GULFPORT — Even though the city is taking some heat for the new tidy-up-Gulfport ordinances it is proposing, changes to the city's code are nothing new.
Even existing laws that govern residents and property owners are always being examined, and changed if necessary, to match the times and the will of the people.
For example, freestanding A- or T-shaped sandwich board-type signs that list menus or dinner specials or just announce the name of a business are considered noncompliant. They are banned in the city codes. And yet, recently, there were 16 of them standing on or near sidewalks in the downtown business district.
But, in these hard economic times, is it fair to enforce the sign ordinance when so many businesses are struggling to survive?
Or, when it comes to the proposed ordinances, is it fair to limit the number of vehicles parked in a front yard when a resident has no alternative — no back or side yard?
Those are the kinds of questions the city is dealing with.
"The sign code has been revisited and amended six times since its initial adoption in 1991. This may be the appropriate time to look at it once again if changes can assist local businesses in a suitable way," said City Manager Jim O'Reilly.
"City codes need to be updated," he said. In fact, city officials are always on the lookout for antiquated ordinances that no longer work for Gulfport and the people who live and work there.
"That law was written in a different era when signs were not the quality they are today," O'Reilly said.
And, it's not just the sign law that is under review. O'Reilly said the city is willing to look at any codes brought to its attention for change or removal.
He said the present "sandwich board" ordinance doesn't seem to fit with the current business climate and the present uses of numerous buildings in the waterfront redevelopment district and other commercial corridors, such as 49th Street S.
Any changes — additions or revisions — to the city code will most likely be made after the first of the year, O'Reilly said.