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City relaxes sign regulations again

A-frame helped attract out-of-towners, real estate agent says
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Local business owners can breathe easier about temporary signage. In a unanimous vote Monday night the Auburn City Council decided to repeal resolution 10-88 for a year and also directed staff to update the city’s sign ordinance in a year’s time. Resolution 10-88 stems from a July vote in which council members decided to discontinue the relaxation of temporary sign regulations, including rules on banners and A-frame signs. The July vote came after the council received letters from the Old Town and Downtown business associations expressing concerns about temporary signs making the city look cluttered. On Monday Will Wong, director of Auburn’s Community Development Department, said a little over two years ago the City Council decided to forego the regulations because of the tough economic times. When the city began to enforce the regulations again last week as a result of the council’s July decision, several merchants expressed their concerns that removal of temporary signage might harm business. Twenty-five businesses received letters stating they had signs that would need to be taken down. At Monday’s meeting two merchants stood up to speak out. Reese Browning, owner of Old Town Pizza, said he wasn’t aware of the Old Town Business Association asking City Council to remove the relaxation in the first place. Browning said he was in favor of the city working with the business associations to take another look at sign regulations. “As a business owner … there probably isn’t anything more critical than attracting potential customers who come to town to visit our businesses,” Browning said. “I’m in favor of more signage, not less.” Dave Johnson, a real estate agent with Century 21 on Washington Street, said recently two people, one from Walla Walla, Wash. and one from Fresno, came into the office because they saw the A-frame signs in front of the business. “That A-frame sign is really important to many of the businesses,” Johnson said. “It’s not there to distract, it’s there to attract.” Councilman Keith Nesbitt said he wished more of the business owners who e-mailed him directly would have attended the meeting Monday. Nesbitt said he was torn, because he didn’t want to hinder business, but did want the city to look nice for the Amgen Tour of California in May. “I think six months ago I voted to rescind the relaxation of the temporary signs, and I have changed my mind,” he said. Councilwoman Bridget Powers said she was also in favor of relaxing the regulations again, but wished the city had received formal letters from the business associations stating that they had changed their opinions from those they held in July. In other business City Council: · Unanimously voted to include the topic of a possible charter for the city in its June 13, July 11 and Aug. 8 meetings. If the council decides to move forward with a charter after these meetings, the item could be placed on a 2012 ballot for voter consideration. Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com