Charleston to begin citing businesses obstructing public sidewalks with signs

Published: May. 16, 2022 at 6:34 AM EDT|Updated: May. 16, 2022 at 4:32 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Businesses whose signs block the right of way on public sidewalks will be warned and could face a citation starting Monday.

The Americans with Disabilities Act reported to the city of Charleston complaints have been made that business signs on sidewalks have created unsafe pathways for people with disabilities.

The ADA requires all public sidewalks to be usable and accessible by people with different abilities. The city found sandwich board-style and pedestal signs are the culprits, and they will no longer be permitted in the right of way of public sidewalks.

The city of Charleston says signs in public rights-of-way have long been prohibited. During the height of the pandemic, Charleston Livability Director Dan Riccio says the city was lenient in allowing businesses to display their signs on sidewalks.

But with crowds returning and complaints being filed, they will begin citing businesses that don’t follow the ordinance.

One exception to the ordinance is if a sign is on private property and there’s enough space between the property and the public sidewalk. A business can apply for a city inspection to ensure it falls in line with the ordinance, so it won’t be cited.

Riccio says they understand the need to boost business, especially after the pandemic but safety for all comes first and they will begin enforcing the ordinance today.

“A citation can be issued after a warning or our discretion of warnings. If the individual is found guilty in court, they can be assessed a fine by the judge of up to $1,087 dollars,” Riccio says.

An encroachment permit may be issued to allow for items like planters and benches to be placed in the right-of-way of a sidewalk.

The city asks that businesses act responsibly and look out for citizens in the community. They encourage businesses to reach out if they have further questions.

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