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Johnson campaign signs violate Tampa sign ordinance

Tampa allows only one sign per candidate at a location. These signs are at W Kennedy Boulevard and N Boulevard.

GEN YAMAGUCHI | Times

Tampa allows only one sign per candidate at a location. These signs are at W Kennedy Boulevard and N Boulevard.

TAMPA — Two campaign signs for Supervisor of Elections Buddy Johnson make a huge splash on a busy corner of Kennedy Boulevard near downtown, towering over other signs on the parcel.

Trouble is, in Tampa, they're illegal.

At 4 by 8 feet and standing 7 feet above the ground, they violate the city's sign ordinance. The code allows only one campaign sign per candidate, and a maximum of 8 square feet. Sign height is limited to 6 feet.

Johnson's signs aren't the only ones testing the rules. The vacant lot holds two campaign signs for Hillsborough County Commissioner Brian Blair, also a violation. A giant McCain-Palin sign sits in a yard on Bayshore Boulevard. Both city and county officials say they deal with frequent problems every election year with members of both parties.

Code violators in the city have five days to fix any problem and after that face daily fines.

David Agliano, owner of the Valencia Garden restaurant, gave Johnson permission to put the signs on the property because Johnson is a good customer, said Agliano's brother, Frank Agliano.

The two co-own the vacant lot and have not received a notice of the violation, which would go to the owner of the property with the illegal sign, not the candidate featured on the sign.

Johnson attributed the sign's placement to overzealous campaign workers and said he would make sure his signs follow the law.

Illegal campaign signs and improper placement of them are not unusual.

"It happens every campaign season," said City Attorney Chip Fletcher.

The most common violations relate to size, too many signs on one property, or posting in the right of way or on telephone poles.

In Hillsborough County, meanwhile, code enforcement director Dexter Barge said during election season his staff stays busy pulling signs from medians and other rights of way.

"This year it's been a lot better than previous years," he said.

Johnson's sign on Kennedy Boulevard would not be illegal in the county, where campaign signs up to 32 square feet are permitted.

Johnson, a Republican, faces Democrat Phyllis Busansky in the general election Nov. 4. When asked, Busansky said she hasn't printed any campaign signs larger than 2 by 4 feet.

Times staff writer Jeff Testerman contributed to this report. Janet Zink can be reached at jzink@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3401.

Johnson campaign signs violate Tampa sign ordinance 10/08/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 9, 2008 3:19pm]

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