Signs of change continue

Sequim Gazette

City councilors decided the city’s sign code needs more work even after approving amendments on Sept. 10.


Several business owners spoke against elements of the code, last approved in July 2011, but most spoke against the old code and not the amendments.


“We’ll have to revisit it many times,” City Attorney Craig Ritchie told the Gazette.


He addressed Sequim City Council with several amendments that councilors unanimously approved 4-0.


Business owners from restaurants such as Tarcisio’s, Domino’s Pizza and others testified they needed more signage and spoke about their location, size and display duration.


Chris Farmer, owner of Domino’s Pizza, said he unknowingly had more signs than allowed in the code and that the additional signs helped him since May add 133 walk-in orders. Limiting them would affect his business, he said.


Karen Kester, owner of the Sequim Sewing Center, said she only puts her sign out on special occasions.

“This is our life. I’m not a hobbyist. If I don’t work I can’t pay my mortgage,” she said.  


Others said the sign size restrictions in the code are too limiting.


Most of the speakers’ businesses reside in the Sequim Village Shopping Center. They took issue with the code saying they couldn’t have a sign in the right-of-way in a strip mall or shopping center like theirs unless the business wasn’t visible. Now the code allows them to have signs 40 feet from the right-of-way.


Councilor Don Hall said the current ordinance is too restrictive and alluded to leniency due to a tough economic climate.

Councilor Ted Miller said the city is going in the right direction but they should come back with more changes without blowing up the whole sign ordinance.

Some highlights of the amendments include:

• Handheld signs count toward a business’ total allotment of two off-site way-finding signs and one on-site sign and are only allowed in downtown Sequim.


• The city’s Downtown Plan trumps this ordinance, therefore allowing overhanging signs and some projecting signs.


• Provisions are now in place for a maximum size of 4 square feet for grand opening and store closing signs.

On Sept. 4, Ritchie held a meeting with more than 20 stakeholders who expressed similar concerns to those heard by the councilors.


Following the discussion, councilors asked Ritchie and Chris Hugo, director of community development, to meet with businesses to address their concerns about the ordinance.


Ritchie said the next steps probably will be to amend the code several times.


“We’re going to meet with strip mall folks to see what possible solutions there are,” Ritchie said.


“Maybe allow some changes to monument signs.  Or more likely, the mall owner can set up a policy where maybe, 8 percent, 20 percent, can have signs. The plan will say how, and they have to take them down every day.”


He said for example, one business could have a sign up one day and another the next.


He called sign ordinances “a balance.”


“Most people would agree you need some signs, and most people would agree you can have too many signs.”


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