Neon is a necessity. That’s what business owner Nick Berry told city commissioners on June 28.
Without neon signs, Berry says potential customers will drive right by businesses without knowing that they are there. “You won’t even see that it’s a bar. That it’s a restaurant.”
According to the city’s code, “Neon, fiber-optic and similar tubing or banding. The use of banding or tubing on a building is permitted subject to the following conditions: The closest part of any tubing or banding on the sides of a building facing a residential or mixed residential/commercial lot shall be at least two hundred (200) feet from any such lot; (2) It is not used to border a window or any portion thereof; (3) It is limited to one band with up to three (3) colors per building; and (4) That the Director determines that it is used only to emphasize the architectural features of a building rather than to draw attention to the building itself.”
City Attorney Kerry Ezrol said the general intent of sign codes is to ensure the aesthetics don’t get out of control and lead to eye sores.
Berry asked the commission to “not be anti-business” and to take another look at the regulations regarding neon signs. His request sparked a familiar discussion amongst commissioners: “Are we going to start not enforcing codes? What was the purpose if not to enforce it?” asked Commissioner Justin Flippen.
But Vice Mayor Scott Newton responded that the city has been willing to not be as stringent in enforcing some of its codes in the past. “We did that before on [business] flags. It’s kind of the same thing.” Commissioner Julie Carson stated there are other code regulations the city doesn’t actively enforce, such as requiring home owners to keep their roof’s clean.
In April, commissioners voted to allow business owners to keep displaying temporary signs and banners. Previously, business owners were allowed to use temporary signs and banners until December of 2015. When Mayor Gary Resnick said that the city should pay more attention to enforcing the flag and banner regulations along Oakland Park Boulevard, which he said had become an eye sore, the rest of the commission disagreed in favor of holding off on a code enforcement push.
Resnick called the neon signs a matter of “the character of the city we want to be.” Newton said he didn’t consider neon signs a pressing issue as long as they weren’t too bright and intrusive. He added that business owners should be allowed to keep current signs up for now but new ones shouldn’t be allowed until the commission addresses the issue further.
Resnick said he’d put his neon sign “back up tomorrow” if he was a business owner and heard the commission was not strongly enforcing its own regulations.
Commissioners voted to review the regulations and discuss them at a future meeting.