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Should the City Limit Political Signs on Your Property?

The city will review whether it should keep the one-sign-per-candidate (or ballot item) rule in place.

Should the City of Gulfport limit the amount of political signs you can put on your property?

  • Councilor Dan Liedtke says "no."
  • Vice Mayor Sam Henderson says he's "ok" with the current ordinance if it's constitutional.
  • Councilor Jennifer Salmon says she's concerned about yards looking "junky" if there were no limit.
  • Mayor Mike Yakes says owners have to have "some sort of right."

City leaders discussed possible changes to the ordinance during their workshop on Thursday, July 19.

The discussion was prompted by Liedtke's request to review and revise parts of the ordinance.

“This town bends over backwards for liberties and freedoms and I think we should continue to do that,” Councilor Dan Liedtke said.

He believes the statute is unconstitutional because it only allows one political sign per ballot item or candidate on any property.

“My position is we cannot limit the number of signs by candidate or ballot measure, I think we can only limit the size and square footage.” Liedtke added.

"I’m sympathetic to Dan's position about multiple signs. [but] it could end up being junky,” Salmon said.

"If it’s constitutional, I’m good with it as it is," Henderson said.

Liedtke brought up a case in Arlington County that he says resulted in a 3-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals invalidating a county law that imposed a 2 sign limit. The case is Arlington County Republican Committee v. Arlington County (1992).

Attorney Andrew Salzman said he would look into the case.

“The whole idea here is to bring us into conformity so that we don’t have any challenges and we avoid litigation," Salzman said.

What's next?

City Attorney Andrew Salzman will conduct an analysis over whether or not the city could restrict the number of signs. He will bring it back for review during the next City Council Workshop on Thursday, August 16 at 3:30 p.m. at Gulfport City Hall.

Editor's Note: Councilor Barbara Banno was not present at the workshop.

Is the current ordinance constitutional?

The issue of whether or not the ordinance is constitutional was first brought up during this year's municipal elections. During his campaign Liedtke believed the ordinance violated people's First Amendment rights.

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. ()

Current Ordinance:

Section 22-17.09 Gulfport City Code:

"Signs which identify political campaigns, candidates or issues in which city residents are eligible to vote and other information pertinent thereto (hereinafter referred to as "political signs"). Political signs shall be confined within private property, shall not be erected in excess of sixty (60) days prior to the election to which they pertain and shall be removed within seven (7) days after the election to which they pertain. The candidates, the person or organization posting such signs, or the owner of the property on which the same are located shall remove all political signs. No more than one (1) political sign per ballot item or candidate shall be allowed on any property. The provisions of subsection (c) hereof shall not be applied to limit the number of allowed political signs, nor shall the number of political signs allowed pursuant to this paragraph limit the number of other temporary signs allowed under subsection (c). No unattended political signs shall be allowed on any property used as a polling place on the date of the election; and"

Bill Church August 15, 2012 at 12:54 PM
Dear mtober - more on this nosmoking thing. Not to forget that when the first lawsuit came to trial at the court on 49th St. A. Salzman pleaded 'nolocontendre' - no contest and basically dropped it. Then at the most recent 'smoke in' the police declined to ticket attorney Strickland per our police chief - I assume at the direction of a. Salzman or others at city hall. This makes no sense! You can not pick and choose who you ticket - so if I go down there and light up - I get ticketed? This whole thing is shabby! Just follow the state law which is clear - it preempts cities and counties from doing their own thing. If we don't like it then lobby at the state law to get it changed NOT just chose which laws we are or aren't going to follow!
mtober August 15, 2012 at 02:55 PM
Thanks Mr. Church ... a Gulfport Watchdogs' (FB) reader saw the disposition on the Clerk of Courts www. I don't agree with Salzman on everything either, and I agree with some of your points, however, I think he had an obligation to address the obvious errors--i.e. filed in the wrong court, etc. https://public.co.pinellas.fl.us/servlet/pcg.wsclient.servlet.CivilDocketServlet?CS__CASE=12004167CO&CS__RESULTS__KNT=10 I never supported the ordinance because the GPD wasn't enforcing the no litter, no alcohol, no fire ordinances so I didn't think this would be enforced either. I don't believe in putting ordinances on the books and not enforcing them. I have to say that, while I believe everyone should stand up for what they believe in and do anything (legal) that they wish, to prove their point I do believe part of Mr. Strickland's motives are personal just as Mr. Liedtke's were with the sign issue.And Liedtke being on this bandwagon IMO is also personal. If Mr. Strickland is truly concerned about people's civil rights he'd include all the other FL municipalities, that have similar laws, in his lawsuit. As well , I think the protesters many of which, like Mr. Strickland, don't live/work in Gulfport should do the same if their true concern is civil liberties for all. ;-) Thanks.
Bill Church August 16, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Dear mtober - not sure of your logic that A. Strickland should include other municipalities - why? He is paying for this action out of his own pocket - it only takes one precident decision by the court to negate all the other ordinances in conflict with state law - just as happened with Ft. Myers and the anchoring law. You are certainly entitled to your personal opinions but not your own facts - more than half the protestors are Gulfportians - the others are from neighboring cities that do NOT have such ordinances or they would be protesting there as well. Again I will say as I did to 'Jo' - the only real fact that matters here is that we - city of Gulfport - are wasting tax payer $ fighting a state of Florida law that says we can not do our own thing in the area of 'no smoking' laws - it is a fight that we will eventually lose in court despite A. Salzman's delaying tactics - only Salzman gains by these actions - we as taxpayers lose - there is no logical reason to fight this fight!!!
William Smith December 01, 2012 at 05:06 AM
The fight to keep the beach smoking friendly marches on and will not be stopped-like the energizer bunny it will go and go-because at the end of the day the fight is much more than about smoking!
Bill Church December 01, 2012 at 12:27 PM
It sure is!!! It is about misguided politicians forcing their values on the population at large who don't have the time to follow the issues and as a result are victimized. I think that any major ordinances that violate our freedoms should be on the ballot. This whole thing has been and is Shabby and dishonest. It was passed under the pretense of litter when we already have 'no litter' laws on the books. The case was heard by a judge recently and he will make a ruling in a month or so - then we - Gulfport - will have to take down the no smoking signs - more tax money wasted!!!

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