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Date of Issue: December 17, 2008

Anna Maria artist, cyclist faces code violation

Artist and former Anna Maria city commission candidate Mark Alonso has been issued a code violation notice by code enforcement officer Gerry Rathvon.

The notice said the city has received a complaint that Alonso is displaying advertising on his three-wheel bicycle. Rathvon said in the letter that such a display violates Sec. 98-5 of the city code and asked Alonso to remove the signage.

Rathvon said the complaint was made anonymously and she is required by the city commission to follow up on all complaints, including those made without a signature.

Alonso, who ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the city commission in the November election, said he doesn’t understand why the city is picking on him.

“I was surprised. I thought it was a joke. I put the sign on the bike on my own. It’s a matter of free speech. I’m not getting paid for this. I’m just trying to help out a new business.”

Alonso said he had no plans to remove the sign.

“I’m going to keep it on until the owner asks me to take it off. I told Gerry to do what she had to do, but this is my freedom of expression, which is the American way.”

Alonso, 82, is known in Anna Maria as a eclectic artist who creates collectibles and gifts from discarded items, coconuts and driftwood.

In her letter to Alonso, Rathvon said correcting the problem would be “greatly appreciated.”