St. Petersburg Times Online: News of Florida
Place an Ad Calendars Classified Forums Sports Weather
  • Bush signs billboard compensation bill into law
  • Study hints at decade of gains for manatees
  • Bush disavows group, tactics
  • Supreme Court rules against appraiser
  • Religion, class size stir up school bill
  • Battling sides unite over phone bill subsidy plan
  • Press a state stamp on your next letter
  • Fuel leak postpones shuttle launch

  • From the state wire

  • Hurricane Jeanne appears on track to hit Florida's east coast
  • Rumor mill working overtime after Florida hurricanes
  • Developments associated with Hurricanes Ivan and Jeanne
  • Four killed in Panhandle plane crash were on Ivan charity mission
  • Hurricane Frances caused estimated $4.4 billion in insured damage
  • Disabled want more handicapped-accessible voting machines
  • USF forces administrators to resign over test score changes
  • Man's death at Universal Studios ruled accidental
  • State child welfare workers in Miami fail to do background checks
  • Hurricane Jeanne heads toward southeast U.S. coast
  • Hurricane Jeanne spurs more anxiety for storm-weary Floridians
  • Mistrial declared in case where teen was target of racial "joke"
  • Panhandle utility wants sewer plant moved to higher ground
  • State employee arrested on theft, bribery charges
  • Homestead house fire kills four children, one adult
  • Pierson leader tries to cut off relief to local fern cutters
  • Florida's high court rules Terri's law unconstitutional
  • Jacksonville students punished for putting stripper pole in dorm
  • FEMA handling nearly 600,000 applications for help
  • Man who killed wife, niece, self also killed mother in 1971
  • Producer sues city over lead ball fired by Miami police
  • Tourism suffers across Florida after pummeling by hurricanes
  • Key dates in the life of Terri Schiavo
  • An excerpt from the unanimous ruling in the Schiavo case
  • Four confirmed dead after small plane crash in Panhandle
  • Correction: Disney-Cruise Line story

    printer version

    Bush signs billboard compensation bill into law

    The law does not affect counties that have bans on erecting new billboards.

    By ANITA KUMAR, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published April 5, 2002

    TALLAHASSEE -- Gov. Jeb Bush signed a controversial bill into law Thursday that makes it much more difficult and costly for local governments to remove billboards on local roads.

    Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties would be forced to pay billboard companies "just compensation" to remove billboards. That could cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars for each billboard.

    The law (HB 715) does not affect Pasco's and Hernando's bans on erecting new billboards. It also does not affect local governments involved in litigation with companies before January 2001, including Pinellas, Hillsborough, St. Petersburg, Tampa and Clearwater.

    In Orlando, county officials have estimated that the new law could cost $13-million, meaning the county may never try to remove signs. The cost alone would probably stop most communities from ever trying to remove billboards, local officials said.

    "Shame on him," Pasco County Commissioner Steve Simon said of Bush.

    The Pasco County Commission has talked about trying to remove billboards before but now will no longer be able to, Simon said.

    "I'm not going to pay the kind of money they are talking about," he said.

    Local officials say they are willing to compensate the companies, but the two sides disagree on how much billboards are worth.

    In recent years, the average billboard in Florida has been appraised at $3,000 for tax purposes in contrast to the $120,000 billboard owners claimed when governments tried to condemn them.

    Citrus Commissioner Vicki Phillips said a task force has been formed to inventory signs in the county and make some recommendations on what to do about then.

    "We were hoping it would go the other way," said Phillips, who traveled to Tallahassee a year ago to fight a similar bill. "Now it's going to cost us."

    The bill passed the House 91-17 and the Senate 29-8.

    Bush acknowledged the decision was tough. "This issue is especially difficult since I am a firm believer in both local control and property rights," he said in a statement. He said the bill "strikes an adequate balance between important principles."

    But it no longer allows governments to enter into agreements with the companies that allow local governments to avoid paying compensation by leaving the signs up for a certain number of years to give companies time to recoup investments.

    The billboard industry argued that the process was unfair and equivalent to ordering a store to close without offering any compensation, said Pete Dunbar, a billboard lobbyist.

    Under the new law, "just compensation" of the signs would be determined in a legal proceeding.

    "Gov. Bush further strengthened and protected the property rights of all citizens in Florida, which is a logical extension of the principles that have guided our great country for centuries," said Charlotte Brand, president of the Florida Outdoor Advertising Associations.

    But government officials claim that giving seven or 10 years' notice is plenty of time for billboard companies to make money on their signs before taking them down.

    -- The Associated Press contributed to this report.

    Back to State news
    Back to Top

    © 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
    490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111
    Special Links
    Lucy Morgan

    From the Times state desk