Isle of Palms City Council to tackle rear-window advertising on car

Dennis Samuelson of Coastal Carolina Properties is facing a fine of $1,000 a day for the sign he has displayed on the back window of his car because town officials think it acts as a billboard when parked on the street. Buy this photo

ISLE OF PALMS — Is advertising on the rear window of Dennis Samuelson’s car an unauthorized billboard for his business?

Car sign meeting

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Isle of Palms Council Chambers, 1207 Palm Blvd.

That thorny issue will be on the agenda for the Tuesday night meeting of City Council, officials said.

Samuelson said the city told him he faced a $1,000-per-day fine unless he moved the car away from Palm Boulevard.

Or he could turn it around so the rear window faced away from the road, he said.

Facing the prospect of such a hefty penalty, Samuelson said he decided to comply although he thinks the rule is unfair, noting that his business generates taxes for the city and the island has many businesses with logos on their vehicles.

The car, which he said is driven for work, is parked at his Carolina Coastal Properties LLC.

“It’s not parked there for the signage. That is a secondary purpose,” he said.

Samuelson said in an email to city officials that he has a lease for the parking lot that provides him the right to park where he likes.

“This is an example of government going too far when they tell you where to park and how to park your car,” he said in an email to city officials.

Councilman Michael Loftus said he contacted the city about Samuelson’s Smart Car located in a parking lot at the boulevard and Isle of Palms Connector.

Having the rear window advertising facing the road violates a city ordinance that has been on the books for years, he said.

“It is designed to prevent people from using vehicles as billboards. If there is an exception for Dennis, it hurts the entire ordinance,” Loftus said.

Douglas Kerr, city director of Building, Planning and Zoning, said the ordinance prohibits vehicle signs when the primary use of the car or truck is an advertising display.

“The determination has to be made — what is its primary purpose for being where it is?” Kerr said.

How long a vehicle with advertising on it stays in one place without being driven or moved is a factor, he said.

Mayor Pro-Tem Ryan Buckhannon said applying the ordinance to Samuelson’s Smart Car rear window didn’t make sense.

The ordinance needs to be improved because it is not specific enough, he said, noting that Samuelson parked a company car in a business parking lot.

Samuelson said the car is driven for work, so its rear window is not a permanent, stationary location for an ad facing the boulevard.

The rear window promotes his firm with a logo that is 11 inches tall and 22 inches wide.

He offered to put a GPS tracking device on the car so the city can see when and where it is driven.

Reach Prentiss Findlay at 937-5711

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