Municipal code allows businesses to display temporary banners, streamers, and oversized balloons for two weeks during a three-month period, provided they obtain a permit. Anything outside those parameters violates the law and is subject to fine.
That's because Tupelo wants businesses to invest in permanent signs; the temporary versions are reserved for special sales and promotions only.
"We had not been proactively doing commercial code enforcement because it was always somebody's second or third responsibility," said Marilyn Vail of the city's Development Services Department, which oversees code enforcement. "Now, because of our emphasis on code enforcement, we're making our city look beautiful and be more attractive to citizens and business owners, who want to attract customers."
Like all code violations, enforcement officers will issue warnings before writing citations on the assumption that many people simply aren't aware of the codes. Repeat offenders, though, will receive tickets, Vail said.
Another growing problem involves businesses that use non-working vehicles parked outside to display their signs. At least two restaurants - Lost Pizza Co., and D'Casa - have been warned about this, the city said.
Also targeted are "snipe signs," which are the same shape and size as standard political signs but instead advertise a business. Those must be located at least 15 feet off the city's right of way.
"I'll see hundreds lining a furniture store," Vail said. "We pull them usually, but we can issue them a ticket for each sign with a fine of up to $1,000 for each."