Which digital billboards will survive Miami’s potential crackdown on urban signs?

Outrage over a supersized digital billboard rising on Miami’s waterfront may spark a rewrite of the city’s sign rules, leaving commissioners to decide which of the lucrative new advertising platforms will survive.

On Thursday, city commissioners narrowly agreed to advance legislation repealing a 2023 rule change allowing a billboard company to build an 1,800-square-foot digital sign for the Perez Art Museum of Miami.

READ MORE: There’s a supersized digital billboard rising downtown. Will Miami make it illegal?

The 100-foot-tall billboard under construction off Interstate 395 has outraged some residents, while PAMM calls it a stylish addition to the area that will generate millions of dollars a year for the tax-funded museum.

“It completely changes the skyline,” Nicole Desiderio, a downtown condo resident, told commissioners ahead of the vote. “We are not Las Vegas. We are not Times Square.”

Meanwhile, new digital billboards are in the city permitting pipeline for public spots outside the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts and Miami’s Bayfront Park.

Those were areas singled out in last year’s redo of the sign rules sponsored by then-Commissioner Alex Diaz de la Portilla before his arrest on unrelated bribery charges and his subsequent reelection loss.

His legislation allowed digital billboards in those areas to be more than double the local size limit of 750 square feet, and now commissioners are arguing over whether to let PAMM and others finish building what’s currently allowed under city code.

Along with allowing supersized billboards in a few places downtown, the 2023 law extended permission for smaller billboards at other locations, including city property within the Omni and Overtown redevelopment districts and the city’s Virginia Key Beach Park.

“We don’t need to throw the baby out with the bath water,” said Christine King, the chair of the city commission. “I’m thinking there is a compromise.”

The repeal measure narrowly survived the meeting, with commissioners first deciding to delay the matter and then voting 3-2 to advance it. Commissioner Joe Carollo joined King in voting against advancing it.

“We need to side with our residents on something that is impacting them on a daily basis,” said Commissioner Damian Pardo, who represents the downtown area and sponsored the repeal measure. He was elected in November.

This week, the Ohio billboard company behind the PAMM and Arsht advertising efforts warned Miami that any legislation to block the billboards would result in the company losing at least $300 million in revenue over the course of the 20-year deals with the nonprofits.

“I hope when we finish today, there will be one lawsuit not filed,” Gene Stearns, a lawyer for Orange Barrel Media, told commissioners ahead of the vote. “People relied on what the city of Miami did. Substantial sums have been spent.”

Along Biscayne Boulevard, a 375-square-foot digital billboard is going up by the sidewalk at the edge of the city’s Bayfront Park.

That’s under a deal that billboard mogul Barry Rush struck with the city, but for sizes well below what the 2023 law allows. He said he has permits for two others and permission for five in all. He told a neighborhood group this week he would scale back his plans if residents really opposed the new light sources.

“We think, and we hope you’ll agree, it’s not overwhelming for the Biscayne environment,” he said during a Tuesday meeting of the Downtown Neighbors Alliance.

Eliminating the park signs, which sit on city property, was floated as one possible compromise during the city debate.

“Maybe we don’t do the parks at all,” said Commissioner Miguel Gabela, who unseated Diaz de la Portilla in the November election.

Gabela said that while he voted Thursday with Pardo to advance the repeal to a second vote, he’s not ready to fully reverse course on signs already approved by Miami. “On the second reading, I will not support anything that is total denial,” he said.

Commissioner Manolo Reyes also said he wanted something between repeal and letting the existing rules stand.

“I have nothing against art, and I have nothing against PAMM,” he said. “My problem is with the size. ... I propose we look into alternatives and reach a compromise.”