Aspen sign-removal initiative successful
June 25, 2012
ASPEN – An Aspen Board of Realtors director says a lot of progress has been made in getting rid of “for sale” signs and other real estate marketing clutter within the city limits since the group voted in early May to remove all outdoor signs advertising residential properties and services by June 15.
A vast majority of the board’s members are adhering to the voluntary restriction, and significant progress has been made in reducing or eliminating signage in Aspen’s West End and at the entrance to Aspen on Highway 82 near the S-curves, board president Bennett Bramson said.
“We’ve had an absolutely incredible response to the initiative,” he said. “Ninety percent of Main Street is really cleared up. Remember, it was a recommendation on the part of the board. We don’t have any enforcement capabilities.”
The board’s directors – who made the decision following a recommendation from the group’s managing brokers – cannot force its members to refrain from displaying signs, which many view as an eyesore and a potential message to visitors and locals that Aspen houses aren’t selling all that well.
However, the board has asked city of Aspen officials to step up its enforcement of municipal signage regulations to include real-estate signs that are too big, don’t address a specific property or are placed in areas where they aren’t supposed to be, Bramson said.
“We have requested that they enforce the current Aspen sign code – a 3-square-foot requirement that says you cannot have riders, brochure boxes or tubes, supplemental items to the sign itself,” he said.
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Only the City Council has the authority to restrict all residential real estate outdoor signage and impose sanctions upon violators, Bramson said.
Two major real estate firms doing business in Aspen – Aspen-Snowmass Sotheby’s International Realty and Coldwell Banker Mason Morse – have decided not to join the initiative, which is their prerogative, Bramson said. The bulk of the remaining signs one might see in town are connected to the two companies, he said, and both utilize a blue-and-white design.
“As Realtors, we have to work to support our clients, and we understand that some of them are going to want signs out there,” he said. “My feeling, though, is that we all have to live in this town for the long run. We feel that if we can do something that will make it more beautiful, a more attractive place to live, the value of our real estate will increase anyway.”
With the Internet and other modern forms of marketing, “for sale” signs simply aren’t necessary anymore, Bramson said. “It’s certainly easy to find a Realtor in this town,” he said.
Bob Starodoj, CEO of Coldwell Banker Mason Morse, said he believes that the decision to restrict signage should have been left up to a full vote of the Board of Realtors’ members and not the directors.
“That would be my preference,” he said.
Starodoj said he recognizes that over the years, many real-estate sellers have violated city sign codes.
“We chose to make sure that all of our signs in the city conform to code,” he said. “That’s where we are. We recognize that the directors’ request was voluntary, and we have chosen not to participate.”
An executive with the local office of Sotheby’s International Realty could not be reached for comment on the matter.
When it was announced two months ago, the project was dubbed “The Great Aspen Realtor Sign Off!” The resolution passed by the board’s directors deals with residential brokers and properties only, within the Aspen city limits. Organizers of the initiative deemed that indoor window advertising for commercial real estate doesn’t have the same negative visual impact as outdoor signs in yards and along sidewalks.
During the discussion of the issue, the Board of Realtors’ attorney reminded the directors that their action was nonbinding.
“Our legal counsel’s concern is that some Realtors might feel that we were interfering with their ability to conduct business. That’s why we didn’t get into any further action, and we took what was a positive step,” Bramson said.