Miami OKs LED Signs, Bayfront Parks Billboards

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Vibrant hues have illuminated Miami for decades, and now the addition of large LED billboards on government-owned property will intensify the city’s colorful neon backdrop.

The Miami City Commission on Jan. 12 gave final approval to amend the sign ordinance to allow larger digital advertising signs on numerous city properties. An ordinance allowing advertising signs in Miami’s premier waterfront parks was also approved on first reading.

Sponsored by Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla, the adopted amendment adds Bayfront Park, Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, Maurice A. Ferré Park, and any government-owned location within the Omni or Southeast Overtown/Park West Community Redevelopment Agency boundaries to the list of city properties where outdoor advertising signs are allowed.

Bayfront Park, PAMM, Adrienne Arsht Center and Maurice Ferré Park were deemed Digital Free Standing Sites. Signs up to 1,800 square feet with no more than two sides will be allowed.

The commission also passed on first reading an amendment to the sign ordinance to allow advertising in three bayfront parks. The proposal, sponsored by Commissioner Joe Carollo, came before the commission Oct. 13 but was delayed and withdrawn after the city’s Planning, Zoning and Appeals Board voted to defer the legislation for 90 days.

Both amendments to the city sign ordinance note as their purpose that “… the City of Miami seeks to bring in necessary revenue to maintain and improve government-owned properties within the City.” That board ultimately recommend approval of both proposals on Dec. 7.

If approved on final reading, Mr. Carollo’s proposal would allow outdoor advertising signs measuring up to 20 by 20 feet in Bayfront Park, Maurice Ferré Park and Virginia Key Beach Park.

The original advertising sign ordinance allows outdoor advertising signs at three city-owned sites: the James L. Knight Center, Olympia/Gusman Theater and Miami Children’s Museum.

Commissioner Manolo Reyes consistently opposed the proposed amendments. On Oct. 13, he requested a study to analyze how the illuminated signs would affect residents.

Several residents opposed the signs during the public comment period on Jan. 12.

“Billboard revenue to improve our signature parks, what a brilliant idea. Let’s install 24-hour lighted billboards with a new ad every 8 seconds, what an improvement,” said Nathan Kurland, Coconut Grove resident and board member of Scenic Florida.

He said the proposals promoted “visual pollution as a tourist attraction” and encouraged the commission to vote no.

As of the Jan. 12 meeting, no study had measured the impact that lighting from digital signs would have on neighboring residents. Mr. Reyes said he could not vote in good conscience for the legislation. He moved for it to be deferred pending his requested analysis.

Mr. Diaz de la Portilla, who sponsored the legislation, took offense at Mr. Reyes’ suggested deferral. “It wouldn’t be collegial to move to defer your item, so please don’t move to defer mine,” Mr. Diaz de la Portilla said.

The two commissioners got into a brief shouting match before their microphones were cut off. After order was restored, Mr. Reyes said he didn’t blame Mr. Diaz de la Portilla personally, but rather the administration for not conducting the study he requested.

The proposed amendments to allow digital advertising signs and approving signage at three bayfront parks passed 2-1 on Jan. 12. Chairwoman Christine King and Mr. Diaz de la Portilla voted yes while Mr. Carollo was absent from the dais. A second reading is required before outdoor advertising can be allowed at Bayfront Park, Maurice Ferré Park and Virginia Key Beach Park.

Source:  Miami Today