Opa-locka businesses may soon have to replace giant pole signs with discreet, ground-hugging “monument” signs if the city passes a new law as part of an effort to make the community look better.
According to Howard Brown, the city’s community development director, the ordinance would mainly affect pole signs, wall signs and window signs.
“We’re trying to bring about a uniform standard that takes into consideration the aesthetics of it all,” Brown said.
Commissioner Dottie Johnson has been exploring the option for two years and was able to bring it before the commission and community at a town hall meeting last week.
“I believe that citizen input is crucial, especially the businesses because this is going to have a big impact on them,” Johnson said.
As a result of the meeting, the draft ordinance is going into further review before it is presented to the community again. So far however, Opa-locka is proposing to give local businesses two years to submit a plan for their new signs and four years to comply with the new rules. Additionally, businesses will have the option to choose a selected vendor in order to create the new signs. Businesses said at the meeting that they want to have a choice of vendors. Owners are also concerned about the cost.
“I want to know if there’s been any type of evaluation as it relates to the total cost for the businesses,” said Marc Caputo, vice president of operations for Instant Storage.
According to the initial draft, the ordinance is designed to “promote the public health, safety, comfort, good order, appearance, morals and general welfare.” Under Florida law, cities can pass regulations purely to make the community look more attractive.
Following other cities such as Miami Gardens and North Miami Beach, Commissioner Johnson’s idea is that regulating signs will change the city’s image.
“Our image is important because we want to attract more businesses and make the area more appealing, a place where your kids want to come back home to, a safe, clean community,” said Johnson.
Although originally set to go for a vote in December, Johnson has postponed voting on the ordinance pending further review and another town hall meeting.