Gulfport City Council members received the answer they'd been waiting for. According to City Attorney Andrew Salzman it is constitutional for the City of Gulfport to limit the amount of political signs on a resident's property. It's how the limitations are applied that allows everyone to exercise their freedom of speech.
"Limiting it to one, at least giving that freedom of expression is constitutional," Salzman said.
Leaders are moving forward with proposed changes that would allow all opinions of a ballot issue, candidate and candidate issue to be expressed.
"You can limit the amount of signs as long as everybody has the opportunity to at least express one candidate or one sign per issue," he added.
As Salzman explains it, there can be up to three political signs per "issue." That means you can post three signs; one in support, one in opposition and one that shows no decision in regards to that specific issue. Salzman says the intent is to maintain the city's value in aesthetics and safety while trying not to limit people's rights.
"So that family members can disagree," Salzman said.
The changes were discussed at Thursday's City Council Workshop following an on going discussion about the legality of limiting signs. Other proposed changes include a sign limit of six square feet per sign.
Councilor Dan Liedtke brought the issue forward because he believed limiting the amount of political signs was unconstitutional.
Leidtke posed the question first when he was running for the Ward 1 seat and then again once he was elected. During the March elections, Dan Liedtke's attorney David Schauer if the city were to enforce the ordinance because he stated it was unconstitutional. Salzman stated that the city hadn't removed any signs from private property and that the ordinance was constitutional.
Currently city ordinance only allows one political sign per ballot item or candidate on any property.
Below is an excerpt from Section 22-17.09 Gulfport City Code:
No more than one (1) political sign per ballot item or candidate shall be allowed on any property.
The change would be written like this:
No more than one (1) political sign per ballot issue position, candidate or candidate position shall be allowed on any property.
The changes will be brought forward for a vote during first reading at a future meeting.