Less than a year after the Spokane Valley City Council loosened sign restrictions for businesses, it appears that even more tweaking could happen soon.
And fans of reader boards, temporary banners or flags with lettering likely won’t be disappointed.
“If we’re going to be business-friendly, we have to have appropriate regulations for signage,” said Council Member Chuck Hafner at Tuesday’s study session.
The subject of business signs – which never really seems to ever go away – came up again recently after several voiced concerns to the council that city code-enforcement officers were not allowing certain types of temporary signs or banners, especially at smaller shops like coffee stands.
Last year, the Spokane Valley Community Development Department initiatied a new education/code-enforcement process in the wake of new changes to the code, which relaxed rules on wall signs, freestanding signs, off-premises directional signs, A-frame signs and more. In addition to news stories in local print media, 3,228 informational letters were mailed to businesses and a brochure was created showing examples of acceptable signage.
Onsite visits were then made at businesses not in compliance with the sign code, and follow-up visits when necessary. In all, 300 businesses were visited, 53 verbal warnings were given and 18 written warnings issued.
Still, John Hohman, director of community development, agreed that some changes to the rules could be helpful.
“What’s become apparent is we could make a few revisions to the code,” Hohman said.
- Allowing reader boards for certain businesses
- Providing flexibility for the location of temporary signs
- Allowing additional temporary banners
- Defining engineering for sign height and size
- Allowing text on flags or banners
Council Member Dean Grafos said that he believes there is “some misunderstanding with the public.” Before the 2012 changes, the codes were much stricter.
Hohman said enforcement is often the issue. In Liberty Lake, for example, there is high compliance due to stringent enforcement.
Staff will bring back a revised code for council approval at a future meeting.
In other news, the council learned that Sprague Avenue – particularly in the area of Auto Row – might not be the best place for on-street parking. Inga Note, senior traffic engineer, said that Sprague’s wide lanes, high-speed traffic and multiple driveways make would make it difficult for motorists to parallel park.
Currently, there is only one area of Sprague where on-street parking is allowed: the south side of the arterial just west of the Dishman viaduct. Business owners in that area petitioned Spokane County officials to allow the parking to remain prior to when the one-way couplet was constructed, Note said.
Parking on or near Sprague might be possible if lanes were removed and/or narrowed, additional landscaping is done and building setbacks reduced.
“I think it deserves study,” said Council Member Dean Grafos.
Council Member Chuck Hafner said, however, he is concerned about the cost. And Mayor Tom Towey said allowing cars to park on Sprague flies in the face of what motorists want.
“Clearly, it’s a safety problem. I can’t imagine trying to parallel park with 35 mph traffic,” Towey said, adding that a ballot measure to return Sprague Avenue to two-way traffic failed.
“People want a commuter corridor,” he said. “They don’t want to slow down.”
City Manager Mike Jackson said staff would report back on the subject in coming weeks.