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US Supreme Court ruling upends Jacksonville regulation of signs

A tried and true way of using roadside signs for advertising open houses has run head-on into a U.S. Supreme Court decision, leaving it up to City Council to sort out how it will decide the sticky dilemma of regulating signs posted on city property.

The city’s beautifiation campaign has cracked down for years on snipe signs — the small signs that pop up like mushrooms with ads for everything from “We Buy Homes” to cleaning dryer vents to yard maintenance to buying gold — while giving an exemption on weekends for real estate signs that direct motorists to open houses.

But a U.S. Supreme Court decision with nationwide ramifications scrambled Jacksonville’s approach by saying government cannot regulate such roadside signs differently based on the content of the signs, said City Councilman John Crescimbeni.

“We can allow signs on the public right of way, or we can not allow signs on the public right of way,” Crescimbeni said. “That’s where the line is drawn. I can’t say, ‘Realtors, you can put them up, but nobody else can.’”

He said given those two choices, he doesn’t think residents would want to legalize snipe signs in order to have the directional signs for open houses.

“I don’t think any citizens are going to support a free-for-all of signage in the public right of way,” Crescimbeni said.

City Councilman Matt Schellenberg is considering a different tack.  Read Momre