Regulating Feather Signs in Downtown Tacoma

Feather signs: thumbs up or thumbs down?
Feather signs: fine for special events? 
What about every day use?

A discussion came up at today’s City Council study session about the possibility of making another change this evening to the Comprehensive Plan/Code amendment - this one relating to “feather signs.” 

After some discussion the idea was postponed pending further study, but it sounds like we will hear more on the issue at some point.

We’ve never really thought much about feather signs, and apparently neither has the City of Tacoma - from the sound of it, the tall, somewhat temporary, looking signage that waves in the wind is neither outright allowed or outright banned. 

The signs, which Mayor Strickland described as “really unattractive,” and City Manager Broadnax described as possibly more appropriate for the suburbs, can be spotted in a few places around downtown Tacoma, put out by businesses looking to attract passersby. 

The initial idea, raised by council members Campbell and Mello was to create an amendment that would temporarily allow the signs - maybe for a year, maybe one for every 50 feet of frontage of a business - while a more permanent code was worked out. 

By the conclusion of the conversation, it sounded like the issue would be tabled for this evening, but explored more fully by the Planning Commission, city attorney, etc. Questions to be considered include practicalities like number and size of the signs, as well as how they would fit with A-boards and other street signage in particular, and with the overall feel we want for downtown Tacoma in particular. 

The general sentiment seemed to be that the signs are more in keeping with car-oriented development, and not keeping with the pedestrian-oriented development called for in plans for Tacoma’s downtown development. 

From the sound of it, the Council is leaning toward phasing out feather signs, but they haven’t answered all their questions yet. 

Would you like to see feather signs banned? Or do they not bother you?

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Erik B.

Unless they are causing a real and identifiable problem, I don’t see why the city needs to require they be banned, taxed, require a lengthy and expensive permit process or otherwise regulated.

So many areas of Tacoma are vacant, they are almost needed just so people can realize something is open. 

Also, the ones I have seen so far relate to local business immediately by the sign so they are not spamming people with unrelated commercial spam like billboards.

June 25, 2013 at 1:53 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Bill K

Well said Erik B.
The Tacoma City Council is apparently intent on continuing an unfriendly business climate. Guess they don’t understand that Advertising = Business = Jobs. Downtown is sure the LAST place I’d want to open another business.

June 25, 2013 at 8:55 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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fred davieRegistered

The problem with the feather signs (and other easel type signs) is that merchants place them in spots where they make the sidewalks impassable for handicapped folks in wheelchairs. When the signs invariably blow over then they block the entire walk. Stores need signage, but not at the expense of handicapping the pedestrians.

June 25, 2013 at 2:40 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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John Hathaway

Sheesh! This is the Tacoma City Council’s idea of doing the people’s business? Talk of Feather signs that Mayor Strickland finds “really unattractive”.
A: Would that be all feather signs?
B: Mayor Strickland’s officially sanctioned North Korean hair style #4?
C: Or feather signs depicting Mayor Strickland’s officially sanctioned North Korean hair style #4?
Just further proof that “The Council of None’s” train is running full steam off the rails.
And if these signs had appeared in South Tacoma instead of downtown would it even become an issue.

June 25, 2013 at 7:53 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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These things are always blocking my view on a turn even though they are somewhat transparent.  What happened to a good ol’ fashioned sandwich board?  As much as I was completely oblivious to Little Caesar’s 5 Dollar Ready Bake Pizza, get it out of the freaking right-of-way so I don’t hit someone.  There should be some minor regulatory oversight on these for sure.  Protecting the aesthetics of downtown is a nice thought and should be reviewed by the Pacific Avenue Business District.

June 25, 2013 at 10:14 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Published Author RR AndersonRegistered

don’t forget lame-wad robo-sign wavers

June 26, 2013 at 7:11 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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I’m not sure I understand the proposed regulation… Is the Council considering banning the feather signs in right of ways (sidewalks)? If so, this is the one time I think I’ve ever agreed with Fred. The feather signs have no place blocking or obstructing sidewalks or visibility of storefronts. And they are unsightly in these instances. But if the Council is considering banning feather signs on private property, I think the feather signs are the least of our worries. Council should focus on how to bring jobs to downtown and development to brownfield sites, not on regulating minimal temporary signage of short-term business marketing.

June 26, 2013 at 8:58 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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