So many signs, so many rules |

So many signs, so many rules

Janet Urquhart

Aspen isn’t ready to digest an anything-goes proliferation of sandwich-board signs in its commercial core.The City Council delayed final passage Monday of new, looser restrictions on signs until the code contains provisions for cracking down on sandwich boards that don’t meet city standards.The sign code is expected back before the council on April 11.The city adopted a temporary measure last year allowing sandwich boards on public rights of way outside shops and restaurants. Plenty of businesses took advantage of the relaxed rules.Mayor Helen Klanderud likened the lineup of sandwich boards on the malls to a slalom course, as merchants inch their signs out farther into the pedestrian thoroughfares.”I hope people will understand what we’re trying to do and use common sense,” she said. “It can look very attractive or very tacky and cluttered.””I would completely agree about sandwich-board enforcement. I think they get sloppy real fast,” said Councilman Tim Semrau.Real estate firms that attempted to jump onto the craze with their own sandwich-board advertisements were told to knock it off; council members agreed Monday they’d like to limit the signs to restaurants and retailers. The new code does, however, allow a 4-square-foot picture box for real estate firms, similar to the ones restaurants use to display their menus.The city’s zoning officer needs the power, authorized in the code, to enforce design standards and draw the line on placement, council members agreed.Councilman Torre suggested the signs not be allowed to creep farther than 3 feet out from a building, but he got no support from his colleagues.The council did agree the allowance for sandwich boards in the code will expire in a year unless it’s extended.Other proposed changes include:• Dropping restrictions on the size of political signs on private property.• Allowing banners on Main Street light poles for the significant anniversaries of local nonprofits starting with the 10th anniversary and every five years thereafter (instead of the 25th, 50th, 75th, etc.). Banners for significant local, national and international events (like the Winter X Games) will also be permitted.• Sale signs in store windows can remain up for two weeks, but must then come down for two months (instead of three).• Lettering on awnings will count toward the total signage allowed for a business (due to “excessive lettering” on some recently installed awnings).Among the signs still outlawed in Aspen are: billboards; signs that flash, blink, flicker, pulse, scintillate, vary in intensity, rotate or otherwise move; neon signs; obsolete signs (unless they’re historic); signs that appear to move or change through an optical illusion; and roof signs.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is

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