OCEAN CITY – “No Profanity Please” signs will be posted on each block of the Boardwalk this summer in an effort to serve as a reminder that Ocean City strives to be a family-friendly resort.
Earlier this month, after several months of deliberation, the Police Commission voted unanimously to recommend the Mayor and City Council approve the installation of “No Profanity Please” signs along the Boardwalk at street ends.
On Monday evening, the recommendation came before the council.
“You all recall earlier this year Council Secretary [Mary] Knight received a suggestion by her constituents after visiting Virginia Beach that Ocean City move forward with “No Profanity” signs on the Boardwalk. The Mayor and City Council referred that matter for further discussion to the Police Commission. The police department and Lt. Scott Harner drafted several iterations of the graphic to make the signs family-friendly for Ocean City,” City Manager David Recor said.
Recor presented to the council on Monday the graphic, which will also be made available to the public on the town’s website to allow businesses an opportunity to use as well. The signs have been produced by Ocean City’s own Public Works Department, which recently invested in a sign machine. The signs are available in 12-by-18-inch and 24-by-18-inch dimensions
Councilman Brent Ashley pointed out the Virginia Beach Hotel-Motel Association also posts a “Rules of Common Decency” on its website, Dewey Beach, Del. just recently more than doubled their fines for public urination, and Wildwood, NJ. last year enacted an ordinance against “saggy pants” being worn on its Boardwalk.
“I think it’s fair to say that our competitors are dealing with similar decency behavior situations and are taking steps to protect their family-friendly images, and so are we. Although this is not an ordinance but rather a suggestion, it’s the right thing to do and sends the right message. We respect each visitor that comes to our town and we are just asking that they do the same Now, if we could just add ‘no saggy pants’ to the sign we might have something but that is not going to happen tonight,” said Ashley, who has been an advocate for allowing police to fine individuals for “saggy pants” on the Boardwalk.
The council voted 6-0 with Council President Lloyd Martin absent to approve the motion.
“This is showing how commissions work. This idea was brought to me by two hoteliers, and I brought it to the Police Commission. The research was done, and it was determined it was not going to be anything finable. It is just a general reminder. The whole idea is it shows Ocean City cares … families will see it, and people will remember when they see it that maybe they shouldn’t use the kind of colorful language that some folks use,” Knight said.
The concept was first brought before the Police Commission in January. At that time, Police Commission Chair and Councilman Doug Cymek recognized the public is entitled to the First Amendment and the signage should not enforce a fine or an arrest. He recommended adding “Please” to the sign to help differentiate between asking for no profanity versus implementing a law. Both Police Chief Ross Buzzuro and City Solicitor Guy Ayres agreed.
In February, Harner returned to the commission with a preliminary design of a “No Profanity Please” sign, which differentiates between a friendly suggestion versus a crime.
Unlike Ocean City, Virginia Beach has a law in place that states, “If any person shall, in the presence or hearing of another, curse or abuse such other person, or use any violent abusive language to such other person concerning himself or any of his relations, or otherwise use such language under circumstances reasonably calculated to provoke a breach of the peace, he shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor”, which is a fine up to $500.