In order to inform the public regarding code violation by an area auto dealership, the following facts exist.
Area car dealers requested, and the City of Hot Springs accommodated, that additional banners and signs be tolerated due to the state of the automotive industry following the economic crash of 2008. This tolerance became official when on April 1, 2014 the Hot Springs Board of Directors adopted an exclusion via Ordinance 6011, “Signs excluded from regulation: Temporary signs and banners until October 1, 2014.” From April 2014 until October 2014, no temporary sign regulations were enforced.
Approximately a year ago, the city worked with representatives of area businesses, including car dealerships, to develop regulations for weekend (Friday through Sunday) sales promotions at their lots. The resulting new ordinance became effective in October 2014. The Board of Directors’ goal was to balance business needs with an increasing public demand to clean up the appearance of the city, including visual clutter along arterial streets. After a public education period lasting from October 2014 until January 2015, during a second consecutive period of time when no temporary sign regulations were enforced, enforcement began in January 2015.
On May 22, 2015, the owner of the aforementioned auto dealership signed a weekend temporary sign permit allowing his business to display two temporary signs on the weekend days of Friday, Saturday and Sunday in compliance with the regulations of the city’s sign ordinance. The owner placed 20 signs instead of two and put them up midweek instead of weekend. Thus, the banners violated city code with regard to number and time of display. Had the business applied to erect poles and American flags, its request would have fallen under the city’s exemption of American flags from permit requirements, as specified in the same sign ordinance.
President Ike Eisenhower’s Executive Order No. 10834, issued in 1959, specifies the proper detail of the American flag, including the number of stars and stripes as well as the standard proportions of the design elements of the flag. Since the banners in question are not by definition American flags, they are therefore temporary signs as specified in the permit application signed by the business owner.
The U.S. Flag rules of conduct forbid the use of the flag for promotional and advertising purposes at §8.1: (i) The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever (Title 4, United States Code, Chapter 1 adopted at P.L., 623, 77th Congress, Second Session, June 22, 1942, as amended).