Punta Gorda City Council passes ordinance for sign standards
PUNTA GORDA, Fla.– Hanging controversial flags in Punta Gorda could now cost you. The City Council unanimously approved an ordinance for sign standards. This means flags and signs with curse words or discriminatory images or language will now be policed.
“In America you can’t make that illegal,” first amendment advocate Michael Hirsh said.
Hirsh is a longtime defender of the first amendment. He said a change to the sign ordinance in Punta Gorda is not constitutional. He feels the Council is prohibiting signs with disparaging messages directed to the president.
“As in f*** Trump or f*** Biden,” he explained.
Hirsh clarified he was not encouraging the inappropriate signs.
“Just as much as any other parent or grandparent I don’t like seeing obscenities on a t-shirt or on a sign in a public place. But as a long time defender of the first amendment I know you cannot legislate against it,” he said.
City attorney David Levin also commented on the decision.
“Our definition of sign includes thing and if that thing displays language that is indecent as we’ve defined it and is legible to people within a public right of way that would include the potential of someone under the age of 17 viewing it, that would be a prohibited sign,” Levin said.
Officials said they’re not planning to police flags.
“If staff receives a complaint regarding such type of sign or flag, it would be addressed on a case by case basis, regardless of when the sign or flag was placed on/at the property,” Lisa Hannon said, a Punta Gorda zoning official.
Charlotte County does not have a similar proposal or ordinance in place now. However, the Charlotte county commission did ask Punta Gorda to send over their ordinance once approved.
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