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Merry Christmas to Noncompliance with Miami Beach Signage Law

Merry Christmas to Noncompliance with Miami Beach Signage Law

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Published by davidwalters
Perhaps city officials will have the signage code repealed at the behest of the new mayor, businessman Philip Levine, whose opponent in the bitter mayoral race, former Commissioner Michael Góngora, proudly touted his efforts to regulate signage.
Perhaps city officials will have the signage code repealed at the behest of the new mayor, businessman Philip Levine, whose opponent in the bitter mayoral race, former Commissioner Michael Góngora, proudly touted his efforts to regulate signage.

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Categories:Business/Law
Published by: davidwalters on Dec 24, 2013
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12/24/2013

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MIAMI MIRROR
 TRUE REFLECTIONS
 
Page
1
 of
5
 
Merry hristmas to noncompliance
FEATURING 404 WASHINGTON AVENUE SIGNS
 
MIAMI MIRROR
 TRUE REFLECTIONS
 
Page
2
 of
5
 
The City of Miami Beach, like other cities in the United States, regulates the appearance of signage within its confines. Section 138-
1 of the city’s
 
signage code states that, “
The purpose of this chapter is to permit signs that will not by their size, location, construction, number or manner of display, endanger the health, safety and general welfare of the public or the appearance of the city. It is also the purpose of this chapter to encourage signs that are architecturally aesthetic and compatible with the buildings they are placed on, to reduce traffic hazards and to preserve the right of free speech exercised through the use of signs.
 However, we have discovered that the Code Compliance Division of the Miami Beach Building Department does not regularly enforce the code in respect to temporary real estate and construction signs unless a private person complains. That is, the policy of the Building Department is selective enforcement. In other words, there appears to be a partial enforcement moratorium in respect to unpermitted signage. I believe that this policy in respect to signs that can easily be seen by the public is a sign of a similar policy in respect to enforcement of building codes which are not easily seen when and if implemented. Most tellingly, although real estate signs are supposed to have permit decals affixed to them, there is no such requirement for contractor signs, therefore the public cannot immediately see whether or not they are permitted. The city has an online permit system where permit records can be viewed. However, permits for signs do not appear there or elsewhere for online viewing; at least not to the best of my knowledge
Code Compliance officers have refused to respond to my request for immediate access to the database they may have.
I had supposed that realtors may have pulled permits for many signs, such as the ones at 404 Washington Avenue here celebrated, but had failed to put the permit sticker on their signs
.
However, George Castell, Supervisor of the Code Compliance Division, said that there is no
 permit if it is not on the sign because the Code says each sign as to “receive” a permit.
However that may be, Castell, whenever a person wants to know whether or not certain signs are permitted, courteously demands that formal complaints be filed via the city website even when the person does not wish to file a complaint against violators, and simply wishes to know if public officials are doing their jobs. And, people may be reluctant to file complaints because the most frequent complaint made by Miami Beach residents under the old regime was that they feared retaliation for filing complaints. Thus the system is kept opaque from the bottom up despite all the high-level rhetoric about transparency. Castell refers questions regarding the policies he follows to a spin doctor, whom I
 
MIAMI MIRROR
 TRUE REFLECTIONS
 
Page
3
 of
5
 
have not conferred with because I know that the first rule of city employment is not to criticize the city, and I do not need excuses for the hundreds of signs not in compliance. In my opinion, Castell, a devoted public servant who is a former U.S. Marine, is simply following orders, as are his Code Compliance officers. They are certainly not to blame for implementing a policy of noncompliance undoubtedly condoned if not devised at the highest level, i.e. by the
city’s manager, m
ayor, and commissioners. Perhaps the high officials will have the signage code repealed at the behest of the new mayor, businessman Philip Levine, whose opponent in the bitter mayoral race, former Commissioner Michael Góngora, proudly touted his efforts to regulate signage. However that may be, I take this opportunity to wish Noncompliance a Merry Christmas. May all violations be forgiven.
THE SO-CALLED LAW
Miami Beach, Florida, Code of Ordinances >> Subpart B - LAND DEVELOPMENT REGULATIONS >> Chapter 138 - SIGNS >> ARTICLE I. -
IN GENERAL ….
 
Sec. 138-136. - Real estate signs
Multifamily, commercial, industrial, vacant land. (a) Real estate signs located in multifamily, commercial, or industrial districts, are signs advertising the sale, lease or rent of the premises upon which such sign is located. Sign copy with prices is prohibited. (b) There shall be a
maximum of one real estate sign permitted per street frontage
. (c) The sign area for a multifamily sign shall not exceed four feet by four feet.
The sign area for a commercial/industrial sign shall not exceed four feet by six feet 
. (d) Temporary real estate signs shall be removed within seven days of the sale or lease of the premises upon which the sign is located. (e) Special conditions for these real estate signs shall be as follows: (1)
Real estate signs are not permitted on windows
 of apartment, multifamily buildings or individual offices. Detached signs shall have a setback of ten feet if lot is vacant, three feet if lot has improvements. Sign may be placed on structure or wall if structure or wall is less than three feet from property line.
Height shall not exceed seven feet 
. (2) Only the information permitted on single-family residential real estate signs plus the following information may appear: a. Zoning information. b. Size of property and/or building. c. Permitted use of property. (3) No signs are permitted on public property. (4) Flat wall signs may be substituted with banner type signs. (5) Each individual sign
shall receive a permit 
 from the license department which shall charge a fee per sign as provided in appendix A.

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