Flashy digital signs radiate controversy - FOX 13 News

Flashy digital signs radiate controversy

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CLEARWATER (FOX 13) -

Businesses trying to wrestle up new customers are turning to attention grabbing digital signs. Critics say the signs are the equivalent of shouting down the street and everybody loses.

"It's tacky and it's distracting," says former Tampa City Councilwoman Linda Saul-Sena. She especially doesn't like what she sees at the east end of the Courtney Campbell Causeway: the new digital sign for the Hogan's Beach restaurant.

"I am very upset. We worked for so many years to get Courtney Campbell designated as a scenic corridor. A tacky sign like that has no business on this corridor," says Saul-Sena.

She spent two decades on the Tampa City Council and has also worked as an urban planner trying to improve the aesthetics of our community. It's not just Hogan's Beach -- you can spot new digital signs all over the Bay Area. City Councilman Bill Jonson has been fighting to keep them out of Clearwater.

"I think we've made the right decisions over time not to be a tacky tourist town," says Jonson. He is also President of Citizens for a Scenic Florida and doesn't care for the digital sign out front of Hogan's Beach.

LINK: Citizens for a scenic Florida: http://www.scenicflorida.org/

Every city and county has different rules and regulations for these new digital signs.

In Clearwater, most signs are permitted to change screens just once every six hours. Pinellas County is more lenient, once a minute. In Tampa, the rules are found in the city code section 27-289.6,Subsection 20, which says reads: "the digital signs can change just once every five minutes."

But the sign at Hogan's beach changes every few seconds. What does Hulk Hogan have to say about that? We contacted a publicist who said it wasn't something he had time to talk about -- so we waited for weeks.

Then, he held a news conference on April 23rd announcing a big wresting event.

We were told it wasn't the time or place to discuss the issue. But Hulk Hogan didn't seem to mind talking about the restaurant as he addressed a crowd at the restaurant.

"Thank you so much for helping me with Hogan's Beach. It's the first time I've tried to do a restaurant with my name on it and you've been supportive, thank you."

So does Hogan's Beach have some sort of legal exception for this sign? It seems nobody connected with the restaurant wanted to talk about that on the record, but the city attorney notified Fox 13 that code enforcement is now Investigating potential violations.

"I think if the technology is there, people will push it to the limit, but I think that we as a community can say, wait a minute we have higher quality standards," Saul-Sena said.

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