Business owners speak out against the City of Gainesville for enforcing a sign ordinance

Published: Aug. 17, 2021 at 5:53 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -Gainesville business owners are speaking out against the Gainesville City Commission after they were met with a notice about the signage on their windows.

It would cost them one thousand dollars a day if they didn’t comply.

Covid-19 is still affecting businesses financially, and many business owners have posted their frustration with this ordinance on social media.

Tom Fox, owner of Tom Kat Kafe and Fox Lounge, remembers when this ordinance was originally put in place. According to Fox, that was over 20 years ago. He said the city has not cracked down on the sign ordinance until earlier this year.

“It was really a disappointment. I think the city has been really not in touch with businesses, they’ve been taking away our parking, they’re hitting us with these sign ordinances, that can be business crushing, I mean who can afford 30 thousand dollars a month in fines?” Fox explained.

Related Story: City of Gainesville giving vaccinated employees $250 bonus

Commissioner Adrian Hayes-Santos said it’s not only for aesthetics, but safety as well. He said the city is open to looking at this issue case by case.

“I do think there is some room to look at the law to see if there is some wiggle room. I’ve talked to some businesses who don’t really have too much but they’re still in violation of the law. So I think there is room to look at the law and see what can be a good medium between the extremes,” said Hayes-Santos.

Tom Kat Kafe ended up in compliance with the ordinance after negotiating about the art covering most of the front window. Fox said he hopes commissioners communicate more with the business owners in town.

“I think they should’ve sent warning letters that gave us more time. And maybe even approach the downtown community and talk about how we should really use the sign ordinance,” stated Fox.

Hayes-Santos did not comment on why they are cracking down on the ordinance this long after the fact.

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