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Our View: Auburn must pedal its best foot forward for Amgen race day

Businesses, residents and government are all responsible to shine up the city
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With the economic recovery starting to find its footing in Auburn, it’s not the right time to fine Auburn businesses for temporary banners and sandwich boards that might be the only things standing — or hanging — between success and failure. Instead, it’s time for businesses that have taken advantage of the temporary sign enforcement moratorium to voluntarily clean up their presentation as best they can under the circumstances. It’s time to put business and Auburn first. Auburn must put its best foot forward when presenting itself to the world for the Amgen Tour of California bike race stage start, May 17. That’s going to take a community-wide effort and some sacrifice. The Auburn City Council’s decision last year to lift the enforcement moratorium on temporary signs, including banners and so-called A-frame sidewalk signs, shouldn’t be a complete surprise. The temporary sign code has been relaxed for nearly two years as an empathetic council allowed businesses to weather Streetscape construction and a tough economy. This week, more than two-dozen businesses using temporary signs on a permanent basis are receiving letters that they need to take down their signs or be found in violation of city code. Fines could range from $100 to $500 if violators don’t comply, the letters say. The city should use fines as a last resort for the worst offenders and no one that we have seen falls into that category. But businesses that receive the letters should also do their best to comply if it won’t cripple their efforts to stay financially afloat. They should comply not out of fear, but out of community pride. In 41 short days, the Amgen Tour of California rides into town for an all-day event that could attract upward of 20,000 to the streets of Downtown and Old Town Auburn. A worldwide television audience will see glimpses of city streets and buildings on the Versus network. National and statewide media will be on hand to report, broadcast and blog. TV crews from Sacramento and the Bay Area likely will provide live remotes to hundreds of thousands of viewers, many who have never ventured off the freeway on their way to Lake Tahoe. Auburn, this is our close-up. Rather than streets lined with plastic banners and sidewalks obstructed by stand-up signs, wouldn’t it be better to see spotless roads and walkways, windows decorated in cycling themes and “welcome Amgen” posters along the race route? Since spectators will be driving into the city and parking in outlying parking lots, shouldn’t the same “good neighbor” policy apply? If the city, businesses and residents are all in for Amgen, cleaning up the city — including the removal of temporary signs — is a great way to unify behind the cause. If we’re not together for Auburn’s largest one-day marketing event in history, what does that say about our business community? Auburn may only get one shot at this. Let’s look our best.