Messy vitality – or just messy?
A decision on what does and doesn’t constitute tacky will have to wait until next spring.In the meantime, Aspen enforcement officials will hand out a list of do’s and don’ts to city retailers regarding the display of merchandise outside their shops.A slew of complaints this summer regarding racks of clothing outside downtown businesses resulted in a recent crackdown of sorts and drew several merchants to Monday’s Aspen City Council meeting to voice their viewpoints.While some merchants have been directed to take the racks inside, off the public right of way, restaurants have expanded their outdoor seating and bike shops line up rental bikes outside their establishments. Enforcement of the rules hasn’t always been equitable, several retailers suggested.”As you look around, it’s not being uniformly enforced,” said Mickey Alper, owner of Aspen Fur and Shearling. “The message is mixed.”Putting the racks inside at Boogie’s has resulted in $60,000 of lost sales, according to owner Leonard “Boogie” Weinglass, but the real impact is on the tourist experience, he contends.”Who’s it hurting?” Weinglass said, voicing support for the outdoor displays.”I don’t believe in racks being outside,” countered Cos Bar owner Lily Garfield. “It cheapens the neighborhood.”The city relaxed its rules on signs and various outdoor commercial activities a few years ago to help revitalize the downtown core. This year, it has received complaints about what has taken place on sidewalks and in the malls, said Chris Bendon, community development director.The rules need another look, he said, but Bendon’s staff has its hands full with a land-use code rewrite these days. New rules, if there are any, will have to wait until next spring, Bendon said.”We need to look at these regulations and see if we want to change them, but that’s not going to happen tonight,” agreed Mayor Helen Klanderud.”It really is a very fine line,” Councilwoman Rachel Richards added. “I do hear comments over time. Somebody said to me, ‘How come it’s getting so tacky around here?'”Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is email@example.com