October 9, 2011 in City

Board awaits vote on liquor sign rule

By The Spokesman-Review
 

The Spokane City Council could vote Monday on whether the city should regulate the number of alcohol signs liquor licensees can have that are visible from the street.

In April 2010, the state Liquor Control Board passed a rule limiting that number to four, but gave cities the option to exempt liquor licensees in their jurisdiction.

Council members Jon Snyder and Bob Apple sponsored the ordinance after concerned business owners told them of the new law, Snyder said.

“I don’t know where this came from,” he said. “It just seems like a really arbitrary rule.”

Business owners say the board has issued warnings to area bars with more than four signs visible from the street, but have agreed to wait for the city to vote on the ordinance before issuing fines.

“We crafted a very narrow ordinance that allows the status quo to continue,” Snyder said. “Right now there’s really no limit to how many signs can be seen outside a business.”

Snyder said the ordinance would not affect other outdoor advertisement restrictions passed in 2009 which say, in part, no new off-premises signs may be constructed, and those that exist must be maintained.

“None of those restrictions will change,” he said.

“It’s silly,” Snyder added. “These are all really hard-working businesses that are contributing to our community. We want to make it easier for them, not harder.”

So far, he said, the proposed ordinance hasn’t been met with opposition, and he’s optimistic the council will pass it Monday.

RJ Portmann, president of the Spokane Association of Bars and Restaurants, said to his understanding the liquor board’s rule was meant to protect youth from exposure to alcohol advertising. But he thinks the rule is too broad and hinders businesses that aren’t located near schools, churches or community centers.

The signs also tell customers what kind of offerings the establishment serves and creates “atmosphere and ambiance,” he said.

“Personally, I think it looks good,” Portmann said. “It makes the city look like it’s alive at night.”


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