What’s the purpose of a sign?

February 25th, 2015 by Ken

Many people will tell you that the purpose of a sign is to impart information, tell of an event or give directions.

But, for retail businesses, a sign is far more important than that.  A sign is the life blood of a business.   if the customer can’t find the store, she can’t shop.

What’s the purpose of regulating signs?

Some think that signs are dirty, polluting, an eyesore and an assault against the natural environment.

City government may believe that, but more often, they say signs need to be regulated for public safety particularly when they are placed along the public right-of-way.   They are distracting for drivers and can be the cause of accidents.

All cities have some regulation regarding signs.   Some are very restrictive, some are less so and some leave sign up to interpretation.   Some cities see signs as a tourist attraction (Las Vegas for instance.)

For more than a quarter of a century, the City of Lacey has had one of the most restrictive sign ordinances in the state and maybe in the country.

For decades – Lacey businesses have complained that the restrictions stifled business and made if difficult for customers to find their stores – – particularly if they were located in a strip mall.

But, the city didn’t budge.   It liked controlling signs and used public safety as the hammer.   The cries of business went unheeded while the customer squinted trying to find the store.

Then, four business people were elected to the city council in Lacey.    Although most of them didn’t have a retail outlet – they did understand the need of business to be properly signed.

They brought a new way of looking at signs and the city has loosened the restrictions – – somewhat.

Business was happy.   It wasn’t the outright lifting of the restrictions it wanted – but it was better than before.

Now – the  City of  Lacey has a more reflective sign ordinance.   It’s still the most restrictive in the state, but at least now it makes a little more sense.

Sometimes you can fight city hall – even if it does take two decades.

Posted in Business, Government, History, Local Politics, The Real News

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