Car advertising is causing major discord in Panama City Beach, FL as the City Council clashes over an ordinance that would ban individuals from parking cars with political signs near the road. Tensions have become so high that one council member accused another of being a member of an “amateur axis of evil.”
Panama City Beach already has an ordinance covering other vehicle signs parked near streets. Basically, it’s illegal to use vehicles with business signs as commercial advertising by parking them within 100 feet of a street when they’re not being used for transportation.
“Banning signage on vehicles that are parked near roadways is a slippery, dangerous thing, and violates the individual companies rights to draw traffic to their business or cause,” says Brandan Krieger, Owner of Alphagraffix & Signs. “Additionally, today it’s vehicle based signage, perhaps tomorrow it’s marquees, pole signs, architectural signage or freedom of speech and expression.”
Currently, the ordinance bans industries, commercial businesses, educational organizations, not-for-profits and religious groups from using vehicle advertising near roads.
The city council is set to determine whether political groups should be added to that list after Councilman John Reichard used a surplus fire truck parked in different locations around town to displayed campaign signs for Skip Alford. Alford eventually lost to incumbent Councilwoman Josie Strange.
City Attorney Amy Myers argued that adding political signs to the ordinance would prevent discrimination in sign regulations, but Reichard pointed out that the language is too vague. Reichard argued that it didn’t include how long a vehicle had to be parked before it was in violation, and that it would be difficult for code enforcement to determine what constituted 100 feet from a road.
Myers argued that the vague language was to allow officials a degree of flexibility. Reichard replied that no one else had brought up the current sign ordinance as a problem. It was in a follow-up letter to the Planning Board that Reichard called Strange and the people on her side an “amateur axis of evil.”
In spite of the ongoing tensions, the Council is set to meet this week to vote on the amendment and come to a decision concerning political signs on vehicles.