Local Sign Ordinance Opinion

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Richard Bell - Windermere Peninsula Properties

The Allyn Community Association's Planning Committee is proposing a new sign ordinance for the Allyn UGA. There is currently a 6 page sign ordinance already adopted in the County UGA regulations for Allyn.

My question is "Why is the committee proposing, at this time, a more detailed, restrictive and over regulated code"?

Sign code discussions and revisions require thick skin, unusually high level of participation and a slow, thoughtful process. The fundamental error, in my opinion, of the Allyn process is the assumption that the sign ordinance is relevant today.

A restrictive sign code, now, will just hinder and hurt struggling business in an already difficult economic time.

It seems to me that the community would be better off offering assistance at keeping our streets, properties and businesses clean from junk and debris rather than to make small business owners follow a sign ordinance. Why not look at existing signs and then ask businesses and property owners to try and tidy them up.

Another question is "What's in the best interest of the town? Sign Codes? More Regulation, Rules and Restrictions"?

Perhaps what is best is for the community is to focus on providing better services, events and business opportunities to our visitors and residents. Why not be more active advocates for pedestrian walking areas i.e. sidewalks and trails. Keep an ongoing dialogue open with the State and County for better traffic calmness, road access and parking etc..

Business owners know how to build up a strong and vibrant business district. The Community needs to encourage and support local business not make it difficult to operate.

Now is not the time for a new updated sign code. A code, at this time, is an unnecessarily harsh burden on the business operators.

Why would we want adopt the "perfect sign ordinance" for such a small town? This ordinance was written for a City.

And why are we trying to fix a problem that doesn't exist?

Leave the sign code alone - for now.

Note: Allyn is a small community located in Mason County, Washington


Comments (16)

Jane Peters
Home Jane Realty - Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles real estate concierge services

Los Angeles County is made up of so many cities it is almost impossible to keep track of all the different codes.  I know that Santa Monica has had a "no open house in the street" policy for a while and Los Angeles implemented one a couple of years ago.  However, it does not seem to be enforced and the streets are cluttered with them on Open House days.

Might be more of a problem in a small town since Officer Grumpy can go around picking them up on a whim.

Aug 19, 2009 12:07 PM
Dinah Lee Griffey
Windermere Peninsula Properties - Allyn, WA
Managing Broker Windermere Peninsula Properties

What a ridiculous notion. I want to know who is going to get this full time "policing of signs" duty. (maybe that is really what they are after?)Why don't we put out an incentive to decorate offices and homes instead of looking for ways to penalize business that are doing their best to support the local community with products, services and ...JOBS!

Have any of these special people with these special ideas heard that there has been an economic down turn and we are focusing on ways to stay alive and not comparing paint samples while we slug down champagne!

Where is the community spirit?

Aug 19, 2009 01:34 PM
Daniel Bates
MCVL Realty - McClellanville, SC
McClellanville and Awendaw, SC

I live in a small historic town where individual freedom and property rights are high on everybody's mind, but we still have sign ordinances and an architechtural review board.  These type of regulations just make sure that everybody plays by the same rule.  I think it's a good thing that not every place in the world look like Las Vegas' Strip with every business' name in flashing lights.  

Your town more than likely won't even need to create an extra job to maintain this because businesses will police themselves and when there is a violation a governing official (could be police, building inspector, or code enforcer depending on how your government is setup) would write a citation and they would have their day in court.  The overall load on the system is very minute and it can do wonders to resolve unsightly and sometime dangerous (ie- low hanging signs, ones protruding into the right of way, etc) situations and pave over business conflicts since there will be a final decision.

Aug 20, 2009 02:00 AM
Ted Jernigan
Ebby Halliday Real Estate - McKinney, TX

Real estate for sale signs and open house signs are targeted by some ordinances. I lived in a community in Austin, TX that prohibited "For Sale" signs. We discovered that the ordinance did not prohibit brochure boxes as long as they were not imprinted with the words,"For Sale."

One of the subdivisions where I do a lot of business now prohibits Open House signs on the weekend. They actually have a patrol officer who just picks up signs on Saturday and Sunday. Home owners have discovered that there is some value to these signs if they are trying to sell their house. The HOA has relented and is going to temporarily allow signs if they are picked up at the end of the day. We will all have to observe the new rules if we want to continue the new policy.

Aug 20, 2009 03:11 AM
Jack Maxwell
Great Spring Real Estate - Houston, TX

I'm still not exactly sure why, but the City of Houston just passed a more restrictive sign ordinance.

I'm all for making our city more beautiful.  Some of the most beautiful areas in our community are The Woodlands and Sugar Land (bedroom communities of Houston).  These communities have some of the most restrictive sign and appearance ordinances in the area.  However, I think the timing could have been better.  The new restrictions seem to place a further burden on our local business people at a time when they may be struggling.

Other than business cards, signage is perhaps the most cost effective form of advertising for local businesses.  I think it is critical to get the balance right between the desires of the community and the businesses that serve them.

Aug 20, 2009 03:37 AM
Kathy Opatka
Serving Ocean City, MD, & The Delaware Beaches

We, too, are sign over-regulated!  But it appears that MANY ignore the rules until there is a complaint and the threat of a fine.

Kathy Opatka

Aug 20, 2009 04:01 AM
Dinah Lee Griffey
Windermere Peninsula Properties - Allyn, WA
Managing Broker Windermere Peninsula Properties

After reading the above comments I want to point out that Allyn has a sign code in place and it is a great one.

We do not have any dangerous signs and we do have good options for advertising. Open house signs are only up during open houses.

 The new sign ordinance wants to restrict how we advertise on our personal vehicles and our homes. It goes far beyond what would be considered restrictive. It boarders on lunacy.

I feel that has been brought about by a few individuals who have a beef with another individual and this is the method they are trying to adopt to resolve their personal issues. Unfortunately the want to take the whole town with them.

We have better avenues for addressing these issues than to resort to this.

Aug 20, 2009 04:16 AM
Ginger Moore
Wilkinson & Associates Realty - Gastonia, NC

yes, I think most cities are sign  over-regulated. nice blog, and thanks for sharing.


Aug 20, 2009 04:24 AM
Richard R. Bell
Richard Bell - Windermere Peninsula Properties - Belfair, WA
Broker-Manager, Allyn - Belfair Washington State Realtor

Thanks to everyone who has commented on this opinion piece. Our small community has an adequate sign ordinance already. However, there are a few zealots who want to protect us from the future "run away growth" by expanding the current ordinance to a metropolitan level code. As pointed out by Jack, balance, fairness and common sense must prevail at this time. This small rural community is a seaside beauty whose business owners want to insure tha the community is vibrant and healthy. When the time is right they will do the right thing concerning signage, building remodeling etc. The local Realtors are conscious on the use of their signage as well. Community issues will be worked out, but not by burdensome regulation.

Aug 20, 2009 04:25 AM
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

They are having a similar issue in one of the local towns.  At this time they should really be focused on helping business grow. 

Aug 20, 2009 05:36 AM
Valerie Spaulding
Windermere Peninsula Properties~Allyn~Belfair~WA - Belfair, WA
Allyn-Belfair-Hood Canal-Local Expertise!

Some people just don't have enough to do... and manage to come up with new and improved ways to make up ridiculous rules and regulations. There is a point of ridiculous and this has definitely crossed it.

Aug 20, 2009 01:20 PM
Jerry Gray
Wilkinson ERA Real Estate - Winston-Salem, NC
Serving the Triad Since 1980

We are experiencing the same in my town. We have high unemployment, and businesses just trying to keep the doors open.


Jerry Gray CRB,CRS,GRI / Prudential Carolinas Realty / Winston Salem, NC

Aug 21, 2009 01:00 AM
Russell Benson
Old Republic Title - Norman, OK
We'd love to close your deal at Old Republic!

I am 100% for sign ordinances that keep our busy corners from becoming an advertising mecca for fly by nighters who printed 1000 signs really cheap.  Face it folks, signs make the landscape look UGLY but we need them in our neighborhood corners, however many are placed within the "triangle" that ends up blocking views.  YOU and I can be held personally liable if an accident is caused by one of our signs and that could be very costly.  Is it worth it?  NO!  The solution?  I have no idea.  We have to do the best we can with what we got.  Some of our local cities have banned signs and that's fine.  I will obey the law as we all should.  Signs are not cheap and I cannot afford to lose too many of them.

This is a sticky matter that has been around ever since I have been selling real estate and will no doubt be around long after I've stopped selling!

Aug 21, 2009 02:49 AM
Joseph "Cathan" Potter
Coldwell Banker - Sebastopol, CA

I'm curious, what is the vision that the elected officials have for that community?  Are the politicians in Allyn trying to make up for decreasing sales tax revenue through increased fines and fees, are they trying to make themselves feel more important (by giving the impression, through the rules they enact, that they run a big city), or maybe they're trying to do both.

Aug 21, 2009 05:05 AM
Lyn Sims
Schaumburg, IL
Real Estate Broker Retired

There are a few towns in my area that were given grief about this but after a few years, the look of the business district actually improved substantially from it.  Too many signs of varying heights, wattage, etc. all vying for the same notice.  Made everything just more pleasant.

Aug 23, 2009 04:14 AM
Trey Thurmond
BCR Realtors - College Station, TX
College Station , Texas Homes


I agree if it ain't broke don't fix it.

 Alas many government bureaucrats don't have much to do all day, so they create a need for change.

Aug 23, 2009 02:54 PM