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Here’s The Scoop … The “Signs” Of Change Are A Foreign “Language” For Many Of Us …


Dear Readers …It seems this writer is basic French illiterate …sad to say…and sadder to have to admit and post…but alas it is so …as 2 Readers alerted me to my post on the change in ownership of the Sea Lord on El Mar Drive I posted a few days back after seeing the banner that read coming soon the new “Porte Cochere” …which simply means a drive- through covered porch in French I was informed!…Of course as I received the corrections from both with the 2nd one arriving by e-mail…the BCbytheseaHubby and I were on Federal Hwy. by Oakland Park Blvd. and observing a massive afternoon turnout of the Tea Party supporters on the corner with multiple signs of their view of our country spelled out in handmade placards held onto with conviction and 2 hands trying very hard to get the attention of those driving through the intersection… We laughed at the timing and jested..maybe we need to join the protesters who would more than likely state  about my ignorance on thinking the sign at the Sea Lord was for a new venue …Why did they not just make a banner that read coming soon a new drive-through covered porch!…

What is it about signs…written or not that sets people in motion pro and con?… Readers are well aware of the 2 hot topics in LBTS at this moment in time coming after the #1 topic of the sewer rates..which replaced the former #1 topic of drainage which replaced the #1 hot topic of the former Town Manager ….etc…….. Those 2 topics…exempting the parking restrictions for restaurants in the downtown business districts and allowed and non-conforming signage…(pole/pylon/sandwich …etc)… Signs allowed for business are also a priority right next door to us in Fort Lauderdale …(See Sentinel article online/in print w/link below)…Our competition to the south knows that business needs help from their local officials …. and our local officials know it as well …which is why the parking issue as well as the sign issue were given back to the P & Z after their initial limited review a few months back…(prev. posts)….and Town staff to get moving on the full content ASAP…in a decisive and expedient manner without another 2-4+ years of pontificating about the “what ifs”…. if a proposed idea succeeds…which is really a “sign” of its own to instead do nothing!… I have been back in town for 6 days as of today and I have not heard any nays to the exemption proposed for restaurants except from a few 2nd hand comments coming from those who sat on their hands they when on the dais … or those fearing success means an impact to them personally as a business enjoying limited competition… Those struggling businesses around town are joining the very successful ones and are ecstatic ….They are hoping to add onto their own businesses with improvements inside and out perhaps with a sidewalk cafe’ of their own…including west of A1A!….In some ways this reminds me of the Chamber a few months ago and the reaction I heard from a few when ideas came forth of expansion for them in marketing and membership and their immediate concern that such a change might make it impossible for them to stay within their longtime location due to the influx!…My reply then was  the same as it is to those seeing massive parking problems from the exemption being allowed for all restaurants…(It should not be retroactive..but certainly for all all going forth old and new restaurants…in this writer’s opinion)…If it’s not going to happen so fast that the businesses and  the town cannot be proactive to deal with the welcome problem that would mean LBTS is a destination within Broward …

Take a look around this weekend…This long Thanksgiving weekend in LBTS has been rather quiet…The Ocean Reverie on El Mar Drive is the only hotel that I saw with a no vacancy sign ….(The Rainbow Inn has the no vacancy up  sign as well but it is closed and on the market)…while those up and down A1A and El Mar Drive are pretty bare … The Downtown on Friday night and Saturday night had a decent turnout because of the regular special events put on…Saturday and Sunday mornings seem to be catching on as well for those coming to town for a leisurely breakfast offered around Pelican Square …and along the Intercoastal and that’s what we need to be looking to build on…We have what the other towns do not..The beach..the wide beach..a big plus compared to Ft. Lauderdale’s skinny in width version and Delray Beach/Los Olas’s lack of being near the beach with their successful downtown venues … The parking issue of exemption for restaurants was taken from the P & Z and fast tracked by the Commission at their Nov. Roundtable …(prev. posts)…after certain Commissioners realized they knew where they as a Commission wanted to go with it…. The remainder of the parking code to be addressed at the Dec. P & Z meeting in Dec. as well as a workshop to follow for the board to address the Town’s current codes for signs…which will tie in with the revisions of the Master Plan as well as the  changes in the downtown business dsitricts….

On another note….It was really rather striking for this writer what happened in retail this holiday weekend as well…..Black Friday…the day long dreaded by shoppers not willing to go out for a “door prize”offer to entice shoppers to appear at their brick and mortar stores in the darkness at 4am after a day of filling ourselves with turkey and stuffing turned out to be a  “tutorial ” we can learn from going forward in our endeavor to launch LBTS into 2011 and beyond… These retailers knew they had to face the competition growing yet again from online purchasing and a real problem with customers and customer service … This year they were ready and the execution I witnessed at each store I made I way to…small and large alike was nothing short of astounding…At Marshalls ..TJMaxx …Macys ..Bed Bath and Beyond …where the BCbythesea Hubby and I counted 6 times that we were approached and asked if we needed a shopping cart…(we were told by others inside the the store the were asked as well)….The help in place was immediately apparent..the organization was in place…and the result offered up an experience that was memorable and unexpectedly great…Plenty of employees…as well as store management to aid with purchasing …. The line to do so continued to move without a glitch to a fully manned check-out counter in one store after another…(When was the last time any of us encountered that?)…All who took the chance on venturing out this weekend that I encountered were quite verbal in the positive feedback offered as they made their way to checkout to management and employees as well as with each other…There’s no doubt they passed the experience and the praise on to friends and family after the fact as I have done!… As one Reader stated to this writer over the last few days since I arrived home…We now need to gear up that not only will LBTS offer up the exemption to jumpstart business coming to our downtown…but we will offer up great customer service..A way to make new business get through the process from the time they walk through the “door” all the  way to the “checkout counter” with an open door policy of assistance from our Town Administration…Town staff…elected officials …our Chamber of Commerce and established businesses making LBTS where they want to come as well as passing along their positive experience to their friends and families and other entrepreneurs looking to set up shop!… We need to plan out not  just the vision of the future years in LBTS aesthetically …but economically through “thinking outside the box” ideas …. instead of fearing success and continuing to tread water with an eye on planning and installing a year’s worth of monthly/weekly special events in our downtown to make sure that our “beachside village” continues to be the hospitality destination that the majority of us chose to reside in when we came to live here…

Dear Readers ….nous pouvons réussir….(translation: We can succeed!)…


Sentinel …link below…

“Recession prompts Fort Lauderdale to ease sign restrictions
City to allow sandwich signs and parking lot banners
Signs Will Be Allowed


Signs advertising lunch menus, drink specials and sales items will soon be appearing outside stores, restaurants and bars across the city.

Fort Lauderdale is loosening its restrictions on public advertising so businesses can place sandwich board signs outside their entrances and hang banners in parking lots. Although such signs are common in other communities, businesses in Fort Lauderdale using them have risked the wrath of code inspectors.

It’s a dramatic change for a city that fought a long legal battle to limit billboards and doled out citations just a couple years ago to businesses along ritzy Las Olas Boulevard for daring to have statues along the sidewalk, including giant bellhops and a cigar store Indian.
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Business owners sought the right to use sandwich signs and banners to help lure customers in a tough economy.

“It’s a way for the city to help keep the smallest of its businesses here and maintain the unique character that we bring to the city,” said Donna Mergenhagen, the owner of the Well Read bookstore on Southeast 17th Street and one of the people who launched the campaign.

City commissioners are expected to give final approval to a two-year pilot project next month allowing the extra signage.

Under the rules that commissioners have tentatively accepted, businesses could obtain a permit for one sandwich board sign as long as it is located on private property rather than a public sidewalk and as long as pedestrians still have five feet to pass. Also, shopping centers with at least 10 tenants and a 15-acre parking lot may hang advertising banners from their light poles as long as the signs cannot be seen from nearby homes.

Sandwich boards have been hotly debated across the state recently.

Boca Raton lifted its ban on sandwich boards downtown earlier this year, and signs have spread like wildfire. But the city must decide by January whether to extend their use and some officials don’t have much enthusiasm for keeping them around.

Historic downtown Melbourne concluded sandwich boards were too disruptive and replaced them with city-controlled signage. Jacksonville Beach, on the other hand, decided to allow their use.

The pleas for extra signage in Fort Lauderdale started three years ago from small businesses in the shopping centers along the 17th Street corridor.

They complained they needed better ways to attract people who visit the anchor stores and restaurants in the shopping complexes. They’ve told commissioners that a fifth of the small businesses in the area have closed since they first asked for help.

“It’s a timing issue,” Mayor Jack Seiler said. “The economy is extremely difficult, and local businesses are hurting. They came forward with a reasonable proposition to increase sales and retail activity, and I feel strongly we need to do what we can to help local business promote themselves.”

While the businesses suggested the sandwich signs, developer Jack Loos pitched the idea of parking lot banners. He owns the Harbor Shops complex off 17th Street and said small tenants in shopping centers such as his could work with landlords to gain extra recognition from promotional banners.

City planners have urged caution in pursuing the changes, fearful that the extra signage could cause too much clutter along the streets and parking lots of image-conscience Fort Lauderdale. The city has tried to avoid the garish advertising seen in some communities with tourism-heavy economies.

At Gilbert’s 17th Street Grill, the owner currently advertises daily specials on a blackboard inside the restaurant and doubts if she will switch to an outside sandwich board sign. She’s said she’s fine if others in her shopping complex do as long as it’s within reason.

“Signage is good as long as it doesn’t get out of hand,” Gilbert said. “This is an upscale shopping center, and you don’t want to take away from that.”

The biggest impact will be in the city’s strip malls, but city attorneys say at least some businesses downtown and along the beach could qualify for sandwich board signs because sidewalks in parts of those areas are comprised of both public and private property.

Bruce Rosenwasser, owner of Art Connection of Las Olas, is content with the sign in his window advertising an art sale to passers-by. He’s worried additional signs could detract from the boulevard’s appearance.

“It would make the street look cheap,” Rosenwasser said.

But some businesses already use sandwich board signs and argue they are effective. There are restaurants along the beach that use them to list drink specials and shops along Las Olas that detail prices and sales on them.

Slice Pizzeria in the parking garage by the main downtown library has two sandwich board signs outside touting that it has ice cream and hot dogs for sale. “You have to sell yourself every way you can,” said Eric Koussevitzki, whose family owns the restaurant.”,0,2978797.story


more to come….

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