Councilman Victor Barbosa said broader allowances for advertising signs could help businesses that are struggling due to COVID-19.
Palm Coast City Councilman Victor Barbosa is urging residents to write to the mayor and to his fellow council members to loosen the city's restrictions on advertising signage on vehicles and real estate signs in yards.
"What is such a big deal that the code enforcement has nothing better to do than to bother a person that’s working, a person that’s bringing jobs to the community?"
— VICTOR BARBOSA, Palm Coast city councilman
Barbosa, who runs a barber shop called ManCave off Old Kings Road north of Palm Coast Parkway, said in a video posted publicly on his Facebook page on Feb. 3 that he's dealt with code notices himself because of the advertising signage on his pickup truck.
"I got another notice because someone’s going around checking my properties and checking my whole life to see if everything’s in order, and the biggest issue that they came up with is my signage, so they reported it," he said. "I’ve been fighting this fight by myself. I’ve brought it up in city council meetings three times."
Mayor Milissa Holland had replied at the meetings that signage is a code issue that should be dealt with during the council's strategic planning sessions in March.
Barbosa specified in a Feb. 11 interview that the code notice he'd received came around when he was running for election.
He said he's been able to avoid getting more of them by placing his truck in the garage, but noted that some residents can't easily do that.
"Opening your own business is the American dream," he said. "Having to come home after a 12-hour shift and cover your car up — it’s ridiculous. People are putting tarps and drapes on their cars. Does that look good? No. The regular-weight vehicles should be allowed. It's not a big thing, but it is a big thing for the working person that owns a business."
The section of the city's Code of Ordinances dealing with vehicle parking, Sec. 44-34c, states that only passenger vehicles, not commercial ones, may be parked overnight in residential areas.
It goes on to defines a commercial vehicle as any vehicle "upon which advertising markings have been affixed which occupy in excess of three square feet per side," as well as vehicles with a capacity exceeding one ton and vehicles with certain kinds of cargo boxes or racks or certain kinds of pickup truck toppers.
In his video, Barbosa was speaking in front of his truck, which is black with a large graphic logo for the barbershop on the side in light lettering.
"I get pulled over at traffic lights and people are like, 'Wow, what a nice truck, what a nice sign,'" he said. "I don’t understand what the big thing is. We work here. We live here. We pay taxes here. This should not be the city’s problem about signage on your vehicle in your driveway."
"We have a process to prioritize and actually put things into motion. This is a very comprehensive, complex issue."
— MILISSA HOLLAND, Palm Coast mayor
"I mean, let me turn this around here," he continued, shifting his smartphone around to face the truck. "Look at this. What is the problem with that? What is such a big deal that the code enforcement has nothing better to do than to bother a person that’s working, a person that’s bringing jobs to the community? This is a problem?"
He urged viewers to write to the mayor and council and show up at City Council meetings and town hall meetings.
Barbosa had raised the code enforcement issue in City Council meetings on Nov. 17, Dec. 1 and Jan. 12; Councilman Ed Danko had also proposed at the Dec. 1 meeting the the city form a citizen committee to review the code.
After Barbosa, at the Jan. 12 meeting, asked for the council's consensus to include the topic on its next meeting agenda, Holland said that isn't how the city's process works.
"As I mentioned before, we have a process to prioritize and actually put things into motion," she said. "This is a very comprehensive, complex issue. You will have the opportunity in March to discuss that with staff. This will come back to this council and we will gain a consensus by that. That's our process, that's how the council has always operated and that is where I stand on that issue."
Barbosa, speaking on Feb. 11, said that COVID-19 is affecting local businesses while the council waits.
"Businesses are hurting now. ... It just doesn’t make sense why they don’t look over this," he said. "Some people get frustrated and then people move out of the city. We’re supposed to be business-friendly here. So hopefully it will get looked at, I guess in March, and hopefully we can get something resolved."