Friday, August 8, 2014

Sign Code Restrictions Discussed at City Council

The Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce mission includes advancing a strong business climate by being a catalyst for community and economic development in our region. Community improvement and economic growth come from a thriving business environment; when our local small businesses are able to grow their bottom line they are able to retain and hire new employees and reinvest in community needs. But to be able to do that good public policy needs to be in place that provides small businesses tools to succeed and removes barriers to success.
A significant way we can strengthen Flagstaff is by improving our city’s sign code to better reflect the needs of an economy in recovery. A study prepared by the University of Cincinnati and the Signage Foundation found that if a business chooses to use advertising signage to promote themselves it can help improve sales by as little as 10%  and much more, and can even lead to small positive impacts on employment at those businesses. For Flagstaff businesses a 10%+  increase in volume could contribute major dividends to strengthening our community.
Unfortunately, many of our city’s business owners and operators have felt that Flagstaff has too stringent of a regulation on signs, leading some to not bother with a significant investment in promotional signage due to penalties that are too high, permits that cost more than the signs themselves, and a permit application process that is too cumbersome.
Earlier this year, we conducted a survey among Chamber member businesses to gauge their opinions on the city’s current sign regulations. Responses were robust with more than 140 member businesses weighing in and the results were not surprising. Over 67% of respondents indicated that they felt the current code was too complicated. Only 15% said they had an above average opinion of the current regulations. Over 54% agreed that their business could benefit from a de-regulated code on temporary A-Frame (sandwich board) signs.
In the spring, Chamber staff went before the Flagstaff City Council to present the results of this survey to members of council and city staff advocating for a less burdensome, easier to understand, and less costly sign code to promote a stronger small business environment and robust economy. Some of the reforms for which the Chamber has advocated include:
- Continuing to respect our dark sky ordinance
- Allow for directional way-finding/off-premise signs
- Rescind permit requirement for indoor & inside window signage
- Give businesses an incentive to replace free-standing/old signage without fees or reapplication
- Allow A-Frame signs without a permitting process so long as their use conforms to a set standard
The Chamber applauds the city council for moving forward with amendments which reflected many of our suggestions including: removing the need for a permit for an A-Frame sign, allowing for directional signage to a business and adopting incentives for business owners to replace their old signs.  We still have work to do.  A vote on the final sign code revisions should take place early in the Fall.
To keep up-to-date with the sign code revisions and to see the full results of our member survey, visit our advocacy website www.flagbizvotes.com

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