Owners must change signs now €“ not

I’ve been hearing a little bit directly and a little more indirectly, about the city’s proposed sign ordinance.

Most of what I’ve heard has been complaints. Problem is, the complainers aren’t talking to the right people.

The city Planning Commission has heard comments from two people besides the city attorney. That’s it.

For all the worrying about 100-square-foot limits on signs (which is the existing and proposed size limit and not a change at all), the planning commissioners and the planning staff just haven’t heard much from the public.

But we know you’re out there.

Planning Commission Chairman Dick Meyers suggested I write a headline claiming that the ordinance will require immediate compliance. He jokingly suggest ed thisjust to roust folks to give their comments to the Planning Commission. There ya go,

Dick. How’s that headline? (The latest iteration of the ordinance has no deadline for compliance. It allows non-conforming signs to continue until substantially repaired or replaced.)

Folks sometimes complain that government doesn’t listen to them. In this case, the government wants to hear your views on the ordinance. After all, public officials can’t ignore you if you don’t talk to them. At least get them to that point, and your complaints will bear more weight.

But you may not want to. The things folks seem worried about are no different than what we have now in the existing ordinance.

If you’re satisfied with the way things are right now, this ordinance doesn’t substantially change the rules for the average business or property owner.

Then again, you may not like what you see in the proposed ordinance and what’s already in the existing ordinance. Perhaps you just weren’t aware of the rules. Now that you know about them, it is the most opportune time to get them changed.

Maybe this ordinance revision doesn’t go far enough or regulate signs, free speech and private property as much as you might wish. Now’s your chance.

After this Monday night’s review of the proposed ordinance in a Planning Commission work session, it will go through a public hearing process with the Planning Commission and then again at the City Council.

It will be read in its entirety following the council hearing. It will be read by title only in the following two council meetings. After the final reading, the council will probably adopt the proposed ordinance, setting the law for the foreseeable future.

I can’t tell whether city officials or the Planning Commission really want to hear from the people, but they’re sure saying it. I presume that desire is in good faith.

I can say that the commission and planning staff listened to both of the men who wrote letters.

One of them complained to me directly He was concerned about the size limitation and the potential impact, especially on large businesses.

I asked him why he hadn’t sent any comments yet. He sent them two days later.

His comments resulted in the restoration of a provision that permits large signs on large business properties, such as Thriftway and Safeway. That allowance had been stripped from previous versions of the proposed ordinance, but the response of the city suggests there was no desire to declare war on those types of signs.

This process started over complaints about unused, abandoned signs, which detract from the appearance of downtown Sweet Home. Those voices were heard. The process started. It’s time for everyone else with a thought to put voice to it.

If not, city officials can only assume that everyone is happy with the current proposal, pass it and put the issue to rest; and reasonably they should anticipate no complaints about it down the road either.