- June 14, 2017
On the eve of a political referendum where Longboat Key voters will determine whether or not to allow a hotel proposal to proceed, the town planning and zoning director issued a clarification via email regarding political signage.
Signs erected in a public right-of-way or on public property are prohibited, except for government signs. Political signs – or any other non-governmental sign – are prohibited on public property at Town Hall.
The clarification came after the Town of Longboat Key received an inquiry as to whether political signs may be placed in trees on public right of ways in front of Town Hall.
In the email, Alaina Ray cited a Sept. 28, 2015, special meeting of the Town Commission where the U.S. Supreme Court written opinion regarding Clyde Reed et al v. Town of Gilbert, Arizona, was discussed. This constitutional First Amendment challenge dealt with the provisions and enforcement of the Town of Gilbert’s sign ordinance.
"The court’s ruling has been interpreted as requiring content neutrality in the regulation of certain signage, particularly temporary signs," Ray wrote in her email.
Political sign regulations now included in the sign code are located in an exemption provision, which identifies and treats certain content-based signs differently. Since it would be necessary to read a sign to determine if it is political in nature, the town is unable to use exemption provisions of the sign code that specifically address political signage.
Content-neutral provisions that apply to temporary signage are found in Section 156.05 – Prohibited Signs. This section remains enforceable without it being necessary to read the content of a sign, according to Ray's email.
Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. Tuesday. A photo ID with signature is required to vote.
Precinct 201 in Sarasota is at 501 Bay Isles Road, Longboat Key.
Manatee voters can go to the Precinct 309 at 6200 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key.