City can’t make exception for open house signs

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – April 5, 2017 – A U.S. Supreme Court decision will force Jacksonville to revisit restrictions on roadside signs. The reason: Governments cannot regulate roadside signs differently based on their content, says City Councilman John Crescimbeni.

For years, Jacksonville’s beautification campaign has cracked down on roadside signs, sometimes called snipe signs, that sell everything from yard maintenance to buying gold. However, it had an exception for the posting of real estate signs on weekends that directed motorists to open houses – an exception that the Supreme Court ruling called into question.

Real estate signs have a big impact in attracting homebuyers, says Nancy Garcia, director of governmental affairs for the Northeast Florida Association of Realtors. “They happen to be out a Sunday, they see the signs, they go down the street and say, ‘Oh, let’s go in and take a look at the house. There a lot of stories of people who bought houses by that happening.”

The city is looking at more than an either-or decision. City Councilman Matt Schellenberg is considering legislation that would allow signs with all kinds of messages, but only on weekends.

“We can allow signs on the public right of way, or we cannot allow signs on the public right of way,” Crescimbeni says. “That’s where the line is drawn. I can’t say, ‘Realtors, you can put them up but nobody else can.'” And he doesn’t think Jacksonville residents will approve snipe signs just so Realtors can still put up open-house signs.

Source: Jacksonville.com (04/04/17) Bauerlein, David

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