Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Politics

St. Pete officials to tweak language of ordinance that would restrict sign-waving

ST. PETERSBURG — Professional sign wavers may not be kicked to the curb after all.

The St. Petersburg City Council unanimously agreed Thursday night to tweak the language of a proposed ordinance that would regulate the display of commercial signs — including outlawing people from twirling signs outside of businesses.

They will revisit the issue in two weeks before taking a final vote.

The proposed ordinance, as currently worded, would restrict human sign wavers from spinning or twirling their signs in addition to restricting how close sign wavers can stand to the street. The ordinance does not apply to political sign wavers.

City staff proposed the ordinance because of safety concerns, and noted that the sign twirlers are "aesthetically out of keeping with the purpose and intent of sign regulations."

Several citizens appeared before the council to express concerns about restrictions the ordinance would place on businesses, particularly those that use people to hold signs along the sides of city streets.

Steven Doletzky, an area developer for Liberty Tax Service, told council members his business is known nationwide for their employment of people who wave signs while donning Statue of Liberty costumes to promote their tax preparation services.

"In some ways, I kind of feel like we're being targeted here," Doletzky told the council. "We're business people and we want to stay in business."

Doletzky explained that the business has never had an issue with sign wavers posing a safety hazard. He was joined at the meeting by three Liberty Tax employees, two of whom donned the company's trademark silver Statue of Liberty costumes.

"As a sign waver, I don't want to get hurt," said employee Tara Segall. "So I think there is a little bit of common sense there."

Most council members appeared to support amending the ordinance to allow sign holders to spin or twirl their signs.

Council member Karl Nurse expressed concerns about how far away from the curb sign wavers would be able to stand, suggesting that 5 feet away might be a safe distance. Council chairwoman Leslie Curran said she had no problem with sign wavers as long as the signs don't leave their hands or obstruct traffic.

At the conclusion of the discussion, the council unanimously approved a motion by council member Jeff Danner to revisit the issue at another public meeting Nov. 1.

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