The Mobile City Council voted 5-1 Tuesday to allow for new restrictions on temporary signs placed in the city’s rights-of-way.

Councilwoman Bess Rich was the lone dissenter on the amended ordinance. Councilman C.J. Small was absent.

The ordinance allows temporary signs, like ones advertising real estate open houses and others, in public rights of way only during the hours of 4 p.m. Friday through 8 a.m. Monday. The ordinance also restricts the size of the signs to 24X24. Rich said she felt a 24×24 sign was too big for rights-of-way.

Rich, who called the signs “litter,” wanted to restrict the size to 9X24, or at least phase in a smaller size to allow real estate agents and other business owners time to phase out old signs. Rich’s suggestion didn’t get much support from others on the council.

“I’ll need a magnifying glass to see it,” Councilman Fred Richardson said of an example Rich showed the council. “I’m 75 years old. I can’t stand out there with a magnifying glass.”

Councilman Levon Manzie also said the 9X24 size suggestion was too small.
Local real estate agents said they would prefer to keep 24X24 size restriction in place. Mamie Jaynes, with Roberts Brothers, told councilors the signs really help drive people to open houses. She said while social media helps attract millennials, like herself, the signs attract older buyers.

“I wouldn’t have exposure without the signs,” she said.

The council discussed a series of amendments to the ordinance before calling a recess to discuss the issue further with many of the stakeholders in the auditorium. After the short recess was ended, the council approved the amended ordinance that also restricts the total height of a sign to 48 inches.

The ordinance will also require the council to review it in six months to determine whether the sign size or height needs to be adjusted.

There will be a fine of $25 per sign for violators of the ordinance. Each day signs are left in a public right-of-way will constitute a different offense.

In other business, The council approved a $25,000 performance contract with the Mobile Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau for management of the city’s visitor center at Fort Conde. CEO Al Hutchison said the money would be used to hire part-time employees, building maintenance and signage along Royal Street.

The council delayed for at least one week, per council rules, a vote on an ordinance next week that would in essence mimic a state law that would give Mayor Sandy Stimpson the authority to appoint a full-time municipal judge as presiding judge.

The ordinance would also more clearly define that judge’s role in municipal court. The council’s public safety committee will meet to discuss the ordinance at 2 p.m. Monday, Aug. 10 on the ninth floor of Government Plaza.

The council approved a $25,904 professional services contract with Red Square Agency for management and disbursement of money received for outdoor media, Mardi Gras signs and creative production.

The council voted to reallocate $39,579 from the Bring Back Broad Street grant program to the city’s building and grant maintenance

The council voted to re-appoint Lawrence Carroll to the Solid Waste Disposal
Authority. The council also re-appointed Eunice Mingo Blakely and Scott Peach to the Codes Advisory Committee. They also re-appointed John Prichett to the Mobile Civic Center Advisory Board and Stuart Davis to the Mobile Tennis Center Advisory Board.