Just when it looked like the Homer City Council had finished the much discussed, analyzed, protested and ultimately time-consuming sign code revision, it was put back on the agenda for Monday night’s meeting.
Council member Francie Roberts filed for reconsideration in order to question whether the council had made an impulsive move in passing it. The body approved an amendment proposed by David Lewis April 9, to let people have their sandwich board signs up all year, if they choose to.
At the time, it looked like a responsive move on the part of city governance. They would require it to be permitted along with other business signs. Not one single business testifying over the past months have had a bad thing to say about the handy signs.
They’re made out of light-weight wood, usually. They fold out to announce a hair cut special or tomatoes for sale or the soup du jour. They fold up when the business day is done and stash well in small space. If someone has a sign in a right of way, the city planning office can haul them off and give the business a fine. What’s the big deal?
Mayor Jim Hornaday voted in favor on a 3-3 tie on the amendment, and the council approved it without objecting to the entire ordinance. On Monday night, the council voted on Roberts’ motion. It had these options:
Vote down the motion for reconsideration. If that happens, the ordinance would stand as amended.
Approve the motion for reconsideration. If that happens, the council could amend or change the original ordinance, including reversing Lewis’ amendment.
Sure, the Homer Advisory Planning Commission had worked on revisions to the sign code for almost two years. But, you might say a lot of people put time and effort into it, since it took so many discussions to get to the bottom of it. In January, after some business owners protested an earlier draft that proposed banning sandwich board signs altogether, the council sent the draft back to the planning commission and the Economic Development Commission for more work.
The commissions left the rule that allowed sandwich board signs for 14 days in a 90-day period. Roberts said she asked for reconsideration “to honor” the commissions’ work.
But enough already. Businesses have spoken about the sandwich board signs’ role giving them flexibility throughout the summer to communicate with the public. Does the Planning Commission, whose work is valued and whose role isn’t easy, have to win on this small piece of the entire ordinance?
Karin Marks, owner of the Art Shop Gallery, came up with a Homeresc solution to paint sandwich board signs in a beautiful and artistic way, in keeping with the artistic statement Homer generally likes to make about itself. And, let’s live and let live.
Commerce is good for the economy. A healthy local economy is good for jobs and community stamina. Let’s not visit the sandwich board matter over and over again.
The Homer City Council might consider getting a sandwich board of its own. Let one of the town’s many talented artists paint it. It might say: “Homer is open for business.”
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