February 24, 2009 in City

Sign ordinance plan draws criticism

From Staff Reports

Spokane business leaders were sharply critical Monday of a proposed 45-page sign ordinance that would restrict the size and height of signs and create numerous other regulations.

About 40 people signed up to testify about the sign law at Monday’s City Council meeting. Most who spoke criticized the rules.

“We ask you not to handicap the business community,” said Jim Huttenmaier, public affairs manager for Greater Spokane Inc., who expressed concerns about a proposed ban on signs that have changing images.

Opponents argued that the ordinance would hurt business, limit speech, force the use of antiquated technology and create rules that made little sense.

The most hotly debated topic was a ban on changing-image signs. The ordinance would not only bar the construction of new changing-image signs, it would also force existing ones to be taken down unless the images on them remained static for 24 hours.

Supporters of the change argued that the digital signs are so distracting that they are traffic hazards.

Several criticized a proposal to limit the number of temporary signs that can be erected by real estate agents for open houses to three. The same limitation is proposed for garage sale signs.

Real estate agents argued that the limit would hurt their ability to sell homes.

“Three is far too few,” said Joe Mann, a board member of the Spokane Association of Realtors. “I’ve had to use as many as nine signs to get people to a home.”

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