Gulfport councilman: Sign ordinance will be amended

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - There are a lot of food choices in Downtown Gulfport. One way some restaurants try to win over customers is by displaying specials of the day outside, hoping those walking or driving by will not be able to resist.

But Port City Cafe owner Ernest Ulrich was recently told the sign outside his restaurant violates city ordinance, and he will be issued a citation and forced to go to court.

"I realize city workers having furlough days and we are trying to do everything in our power to grow our business to create more sales tax revenue," Ulrich said. "And me, as a business man, it makes me wonder why the government would want to put up hurdles to hurt our business."

Ulrich said he's been placing an A-frame sign on the sidewalk for customers to see for many years now. When he was told that was against code enforcement, he moved it off the sidewalk and under the awning, but he was still told the sign must be moved.

"We at Port City Café are holding our ground. We are not going to let people come by and say, 'Hey. you are going to have to go to court over an A-frame sign.' To me, it's just ridiculous," Ulrich said.

The city ordinance states A-frame or sandwich board, sidewalk or curb signs are prohibited.

Ryan Lafontaine with the City of Gulfport said, "We understand the need and the want to use those temporary signs. And we have tried to be a lenient and cooperative as we can be, but when we get a complaint, we have to recognize it."

Lafontaine said city officials plan to discuss the ordinance.

"We want to look at it and see what's working and what's not working and figure out a solution to make it better."

"We enjoy being in the city of Gulfport. We love it here. We have been here 13 years and want to be here another 13 years, but just don't put up hurdles that hurt our business," Ulrich said.

The fine for violating a city ordinance is up to $500.

Shortly after our story aired, City Council President Ricky Dombrowski called and said the board will call a special meeting to have the ordinance amended.

Copyright 2013 WLOX. All rights reserved.