A T T OR N E Y S AT l/,W

Ananth Prasad, P.E.
Florida Department of Transportation
605 Suwannee Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0450
William D. Brinton
904.346 . 5537
1301 Iti-;erpbce Suite 1500
Jacksonvil le, Aorida J'l2fJ7
<)(}j . 398 . 3911 H'liJl
<)(}j. 396 . 0663 Fox
Re: False Representations of Customary Size of Outdoor Advertising Signs in Miami, FL;
Proposed Two-Party Agreement and Proposed Three-Party Agreement
Based upon false representations of "Customary Size"
Dear Secretary Prasad:
Thank you for taking the time to review the important matter addressed in tllis letter. As you
know, I have developed a considerable degree of knowledge over the past thirty years on the
subject of outdoor advertising. This matter is of great importance to the scenic community in
this state and across the nation.
Late last week, I read the two agreements that await your signature. The agreements pertain to
the City of Miami and to outdoor advertising regulations for billboards displayed on the walls of
buildings. The agreements involve the federal Highway Beautitication Act (HBA) adopted on
October 22, 1965 and the State-Federal Agreement dated January 27, 1972.
I understand that
neither of these agreements have been signed. One of the agreements is drafted for signature by
David C. Hawk, the Acting Division Administrator, FHW A, Florida Division. I believe that the
FHWA Administrator, Victor Mendez, is generally aware of the subject matter of these
agreements, but I sincerely doubt that he is aware of the details set forth in this letter. I will
share the same with the FHWA Administrator and the FHW A Chief Counsel.
To be blunt, false representations have been made as to the CllslolI/WY size of outdoor advertising
signs in the City of Miami at the critical dates to secure your agency's approval. If you agree
that there is sufficient basis to tind these representations to be suspect, I urge you to order a re-
examination of what is set forth in the agreements and in the exhibits to the agreements.
Isolated photographs of illegal or noncor!lorll/ing billboards that existed in the City of Miami
should be no basis for determining the cllslolllary size of outdoor advertising signs within the
City of Miami between October 22,1965 and January 27,1972.
The agency should focus attention on (1) an accllrale history of outdoor advertising in the City
of Miami leading up to the laws passed by the city and the county prior to October 22, 1965 and
(2) the laws on the books on October 22,1965 and up thl'Ough the effective date of the State-
Federal Agreement signed on January 27,1972 (the "relevant period").
Honorable Ananth Prasad
July 8,2013
Page 2
The notion that outdoor advertising displays (billboards) up to 10,000 square feet were in any
way widespread, COlli ilion and a general practice during that time period is a blatant falsehood.
The CllstOIllWY size of lawflll billboards along HBA control areas during the relevant period was
750 square feet or less. However, the City of Miami appears to have incorporated the arguments
of a representative of a billboard company in presenting its own position to FHW A and FDOT.
The photographs incorporated into the thl'ee party agreement that has been prepared your
signature demonstrate my point about how billboards that would have been illegal (or
nonconforming) have been presented as the basis for your approval. An overview of each of
those photographs is included herewith.
T am shocked that anyone would promote these photographs as supp0l1 for the false claim that
10,000 square foot billboards were customary and in widespread use at the time of the passage of
the I-IBA, or even later when Governor Askew signed the State-Federal Agreement in 1972.
Mr. Jessee and other FDOT staff members did an excellent job in the preparation of a
spreadsheet that identifies the locations of existing wall billboards (murals) within the HBA
control area and providing other useful data. Some of that information, however, has not been
carried forward in the agreements that have been presented for signature.
No one within FDOT, however, was tasked with including columns to identify the wall mural
(a) that would be prohibited by Miami-Dade County's July 2, 1963 ordinance
balUling expressway billboards (note the full text of the 1963 ordinance is
contained in the reported decision of E. B. Ellioll Adv. Co. v. iv/etropolilan Dade
COllnly, 425 F.2d 1/41 (5th Cil'. 1970» ;
(b) that would be prohibited by Miami-Dade County's July 2, 1963 ordinance that
established a maximum size limit of 750 square feet for general outdoor
adverti sing signs that were located within an area between 201 to 600 feet away
from an interstate, freeway, or expressway, and oriented toward a different
(c) that would be prohibited by the city's July 20, 1965 ordinance that prohibited
general advertising signs 6'om being erected, constructed, altered, maintained or
relocated within 600 feet of the lines of any limited access highway,
including expressways, unless such sign is tllced away from any such hi ghway.
(d) that would exceed the maximum size set f0l1h in the city's July 20, 1965
ordinance that limited general advet1ising signs, flat , to the C-4 District and
adopted the size (area) limitati ons for owner-identilications signs.
I have reviewed the controlling law, the spreadsheet, and other useful informati on. Tills includes
copies of newspaper articles and editorials for the period from 1952 to 1972, which were recently
obtained from archives by Miami residents and a UMlaw student. Those print material s provide
Honorable Ananth Prasad
July 8, 2013
Page 3
insightful context on the City of Miami's ongoing struggles with outdoor advertising and
enforcement issues with illegal signs.
I recommend that attention be given to the reform efforts led in 1963 by the late Judge Spaet, a
Miami-Dade Commissioner, and in 1965 by Miami Mayor Robert King High.
On Friday, June 28, 1963, a Miami Herald editorial stated:
Metro's good tOllgh law sponsored by Commissioner Harold Spaet's billboard
commillee comes lip for pllblic hearing Jilly 2. Tt applies to all expressways, not
jllstthose in the interstate system. The ordinance imposes 2oo-/00t billboard fi'ee
strips on the e.\]Jressll'ays. For the next 400 feet, signs lI'ollld be limited in size
and spacing and wOllld have to jhce the other way.
It's a good law. Comlllissioners shoilid repel the inevitable pressllres to forget
abollt it.
On Wednesday, July 3, 1963, the Miami Herald reported on the passage of the ban on
expressway billboards and stated:
E:l]Jressway billboards were banned Tllesday by the Metro Commission.
Bllt it will be five years be/ore those that are already lip have to come down.
The action callie in an 8-2 vote approving a long-pending ordinance regillating
the lise 0/ olltdoor advertising signs. It callie over vigorolls protest fi'om the
billboard and electric sign indllstries.
Commissioner Harold Spaet, chairman 0/ the Metro commillee that drCljied the
ordinance, led the fight for passage. He said the measllre was a compromise.
On February 21 , 1965, a Miami Herald article cOlllmented on aspects of sign ordinance revisions
uncleI' consideration, and noted that the county based the size of the sign on the Il'ontage of the
property on which it is located.
In addition to keeping billboards alit a/some areas and dllring sllch elilsters 0/
signs /01' one bllsiness and those IIsed by service stations, the proposed city
ordinance lI'ollld establish a mtio bet1l'eenll'all signs and the size o./walls; small
bllilding, small sign.
Coml Gables also IIses the mtio system bllt more stringently. The cOllnty bases
the size 0/ a sign on the fi'ontage o./the property on which it is located, mther
than on the size a/the bllilding.
And so it was when the City passed a new sign ordinance on July 20, 1965, the size of nat signs
used a formula tied to the building frontage. The same formula was also used to limit the size of
flat signs when used for general advertising purposes in the C-4 District. A ban on expressway
Honorable Ananth Prasad
Jul y 8, 2013
Page 4
billboards (similar to the county ban from Jul y 1963) was also included in the ordinance that was
adopted and became effective on October 22, 1965.
The agreements prepared for your signature contain numbered map locations for existing mural
billboards. Twenty-nine (29) llI ural billboards would be prohibited by the billboard bans
adopted by Miami-Dade County in July 1963 and by the City of Miami in July 1965. These bans
would completely bar the mural billboards identified as Mural ##s 1,5,6,7,8,9, 10, II , 12, 17,
18, 19,20,21 ,22,23,24, 25,26,27,28,29,30,32,33,35, 46, and map locations at 1525 NW
7'h Avenue and 444 NW 2
In addi ti on to these bal'll1ed locations, two (2) mural billboards, Mural ##s 4 and 13, would be
subj ect to the 1963 ordinance's 750 square foot size limitation because they were ori ented to
streets other than the expressways and were within 600 linear feet of those expressways.
The Count y' s expressway ban and size limitation did not impact Mural ##s 2 (Biscayne Blvd.), 6
(Biscayne Blvd.), 14 (Biscayne Blvd.), 15 (3rd) , 16 (2
), 31 (Flagler), and 34 (8
). However,
these locati ons would have all been subj ect to the size limitations for fl at signs that were based
upon owner-identification signs. These size limitations applied to all of the other mural
It is critical that someone take the time to compare the size limitations for owner-identification
signs fro m the 1965 ordinance with all of the Mural ##s, whether expressway or non-
expressway. I believe that not one of the current billboard mural sizes will comport with the size
constraints set forth in the 1965 ordinance for owner-identification signs. The 1965 ordinance is
an att achment to one of the documents prepared for your signature.
It is unconscionable to go forward with a fictional "customary" size on the date of passage of the
!-IBA for locations where billboards were in fact balUled, and there can be no approved size in
those locations where the law contained a complete prohibition.
It is also unconscionable to ignore the size restrictions in the 1965 city ordinance. The size
restri cti ons as contained in that ordinance should be evaluated as to each and every mural
billboard on the FDOT spreadsheet. If someone has already performed that exerci se, then T hope
that it would be shared, but if not then the question will be asked why such an evaluation was not
made when there was in fact a size limitati on on flat signs on October 22, 1965 that remained the
law on January 27,1972.
A 60-day time period should be sufficient to undertake a closer scrutiny of the facts and an
accurate assessment of the background to the proposal.
William D Brinton
Honorable Ananth Prasad
July 8, 2013
Page 5
1 OtTsite outdoor advertising signs displayed on the walls of buildings have been referred to by
various terms, such asf/at signs, lI'alllllllrals and \l'Clllscapes, and such signs displayed on
freestanding sign structures have been refelTed to as detached signs, lIIonopoles and I-Beams.
Such signs are either painted on building walls or flat surfaces, or are di splayed in a more
temporary manner that involves affixing advertising copy through the utili zation of vinyl or other
fabric material. All such offsite advertising sign faces are conunonly referred to as billboards,
without regard to the type of support structure.
2 There are other issues with these agreements that also have far reaching consequences. The
separate regulation of freestanding signs and wall signs for outdoor advertising control purposes
has no known precedent under the HBA. Such treatment makes a mockery of customary spacing
for outdoor advertising along controlled roadways. For example, a billboard face on a
freestanding sign is proposed to be allowed within 150 feet away from a billboard face on a
building wall along an interstate, as opposed to the minimum spacing of 1,000 feet in the State-
Federal Agreement. The city' s current regulatory scheme for billboards on the walls of buildings
is an unconstitutional speech licensing scheme, where the so-called permit fees are nothing more
than license fees for the right to display speech on private property. The permission to speak
through the medium of signage is conditioned upon payments to the government ranging fi'o\l1 a
minimum of$48,000 per year to a maximum of$120,000 per year. I do not see how such a
speech licensing scheme could survive constitutional challenge on First Amendment grounds.
Finally, the state agency's role is that of a regulator for purposes of enforcing the HBA. There is
no precedent for a state agency to participate in sharing in gross revenue from a speech licensing
scheme for signage on private property. Under the scheme as contained in the documents drafted
for your signature, FDOT would receive the benefit of monies, ranging fi'om $24,000 to $60,000
per sign per year, that would be placed in a separate fund from the so-called "permit fees." As
mentioned above, the government "pennit fees" are for licensing speech and the scheme is
patently unconstitutional.
Honorable Ananth Prasad
July 8,2013
Page 6
3 The following table addresses the photos submitted as part of the effort to secure your
Exhibit Exh ibit Caption Facts Which May Not I-lave Been Presented to You
wi Photo
Exhibit D 1950's - Entryway from Miami City Ordinance No. 7338, at p. 7 (July 20, 1965} (eff.
1-395 into Downtown October I, 1965):
Miami . Signs located • Biscayne Bay, the Miami River, and the Miami Canal were
along Biscayne Bay designated Scenic Waterways. General adverti sing signs
and along fuel tanks. were prohibit ed from being withi n 200 feet of the official
harbor line or existing bank.
• General adverti sing signs were prohibited from bei ng
within 600 feet of a limited access hi ghway (such as 1-395)
unl ess faced away from such hi ghway.
• All detached general advert ising signs were limited to a
size no greater than 750 square feet.
Mi ami-Dade County Ordinance No. 63-26 (Jul y 2, 1963}
(eff. July 12, 1963}
• All general advertising signs were banned within 600 feet
ofl -395 if oriented to the interstate. A five year amortizati on
peri od was establ ished for their removal. No vari ances or
excepti ons were allowed.
• If more than 200 feet 1i-0I11 1-395 and ori ented to anot her
roadway, the size was restricted to a maximum of750 square
All of the billboards depicted in Exhibit D were illegal or
nonconforming since Jnly 12, 1963 and remained illegal
01' nonconforming thO'Ough January 27, 1972.
Exhibit E See above See above.
[The same photo as
Exh ibit 0 , but with arrows Summary:
pointing to the detached All of the billboards depicted in Exhibit E were ill egal or
signs facing Bi scayne Bay nonconforming since July 12, 1963 and remained that
and 1-395] way through January 27, 1972.
Honorable Ananth Prasad
July 8, 2013
Page 7
Exhibit F 1955 - Approximately at
1300 Biscayne Blvd. facing
ExJlibit G 1962 - Downtown Miami
COlllihouse to the left and
Industrial national Bank on
Flagler Street
Exhibit I 1969 - Miami Waterfront
along Bi scayne Blvd. (US I)
Miami CiD' Ordinance No. 7338 Uul)' 20, 1965) (eff.
October I. 1965):
• All detached general advertising signs were limited to a
size no greater than 750 square feet.
• No permits could be issued for roof signs, and all exi sting
roof signs had to be removed within twelve years.
• Flat signs for general outdoor advertising in the C-4
Di strict were constrained by the area requirements for owner
identification signs, and other limitations were included such
as one nat sign per building wall.
All of the billboards depicted in Exhibit F were illegal or
nonconforming since at Icast October 1, 1965 and
"emaincd that way through January 27,1972.
Miami City Ordinance No. 7338 Uul )' 20, 1965) (eff.
October I, 1965):
• All detached general advertising signs were limited to a
size no greater than 750 square feet.
• No permits could be issued for roof signs, and all existing
roof signs had to be removed within twelve years.
SUlllnla'1': The detached gcneral advertising sign on this
rooftop was either illegal or nonconforming on or befo"e
October 1, 1965, and remained eithcr illegal or
nonconfol'lning throngh Jannary 27, 1972. At the time of
thc passage of the HBA, such a sign cOllld not exceed 750
sq",lI'e feet.
This photo appears to capture the Coppe.1one adverti sement
that was placed on the nOl1h wall of the Parkleigh House in
1959. This iconic sign has a IInique hi stOlY in the City of
Miami and has been moved several times over the years. In
fact the unique nature of thi s sign makes it far from being a
size that was ClI St011131)', widespread and in COllllllon lise at
the time of passage of the HBA on October 22, 1965.
Honorable Ananth Prasad
July 8, 2013
Page 8
Exhibit J No capti on
[Depiction of Coppertone
girl and dog in connect ion
with placement of sign at
new location, circa in 2008]
Exhibit K 1950's - Newspaper arti cle
regarding Royal Cast le on
Biscayne Blvd. and Tenth
St reet.
This ori gi nal sign was erected in 1959 at the nOJ1h wall of
the Parkleigh House at 530 Biscayne Boul evard. In 1991 , it
was moved to a warehouse. In 1995 it was mounted on the
east wall of the Concord Building at 66 W. Flagler Street. In
2008, it was removed again and stored at a sign company.
The same year an exemption was utilized to all ow thi s sign
to be placed in December 2008 at 7300 Biscayne Boulevard
(see Historic and Environmental Preservation Board, LI-ID-
2008-04). This sign would not comply with the ordinance
without an exemption, which it qualified for.
Miami City Ordinance No. 7338 (July 20, 1965) (eff.
October I, 1965):
• Flat signs for general outdoor advertising in the C-4
District were constrained by the area requ irements for owner
identification signs, and other limitati ons were included such
as one flat sign per bui lding wall. Any flat sig1l s that existed
on October I, 1965 that did not meet thi s size limitation
would become nonconforming and subj ect to removal after 5
years, unl ess granted a variance OJ' an exception. The
exempti on created for a historic sign does not support that
the notion that this sign was representative of what would be
all owed for size at the time of the passage of the I-IBA on
October 22, 1965.
The photo refers to Royal Castle' s home office at Biscayne
Blvd. and Tenth Street. There was an ons ite roof sign for
Royal Castl e at thi s locati on, and roof signs became
nonconforming on October I, 1965. There is also a detached
rooftop sign featuring an ad for a blended whiskey above a
package store. It also became nonconforming on October I,
1965 and even if it was not a roof sign it would be subject to
a 750 square foot size limitation. Nothi ng in this newspaper
article supports the propos iti on that the customary size of
outdoor adverti sing signs was greatcr than 750 square feet
under the law in effect at the time of passage of the I-IBA.
In fact, both of the signs featured in this newspaper article
appear to have been onsite signs.
Honorable Ananth Prasad
July 8, 2013
Page 9
Exllibit L 1940 - Single building with
two mural s located just off
Exhi bit M 1927 - The Miami Tribune
newspaper building with a
mural located 0 11 the same.
side of the building.
Exll ibit N 1946 - Franklin- Webster
billboard for Miami-based
Regal Beer painted by Burl
Exhibit 0 1955 - National Airlines
billboard in Miami
advertising new DC-7 Star
servi ce to New York,
Washington and Havana
Note: This photo refers to mural ads on a building wall
along US-I more than two decades before the passage of the
HBA. This photo was taken long before ordinances were
adopted in the 1950s and 1960s to address the proliferation
of outdoor advelti sing and their size. The question that must
be asked is whether these murals would have been lawful
under the ordinance that was adopted on July 20, 1965 and
effecti ve on October I , 1965, and the answer seems to be a
clear no - given the multiple constraints placed upon fl at
signs used as general adverti sing signs.
The very titl e of thi s photo exllibit establi shes that thi s
pre-World War II advelti sement would have been illegal
under the City of Miami ordinance passed on Jul y 20, 1965
and that became effecti ve on October I , 1965. A flat sign
used as a general advertising sign could not be pl aced on a
building wall if there was any other sign there.
Furthermore, the sign size was limited by the 1965 formul a,
and that formula precluded thi s size. If the linear frontage
was 75 feet (for example), then the maximum size would
have been less than 400 square feet.
The 1927 photo of the Southern Dai ri es ad copy for Tlte
Velvet Killd Ice Crealll can be found at the following
ht tp://www. fl oridamemOly.com/ i tems/show/3 4024
Thi s is a photo of a detached general adverti sing sign
(bi llboard). The locati on is not identified. If it was located
in a manner so as to be viewed from an expressway, it would
have been banned as of 1963. The maximum size for such a
sign by July 20, 1965 was not greater than 750 square feet.
Thi s is a photo of a detached general adverti sing sign
(billboard). The locati on is not identified. If it was located
in a manner so as to be viewed from an expressway, it would
have been banned as of 1963. The maximum size for such a
sign by July 20, 1965 was not greater than 750 square feet.

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