Being more lax on sign codes, closing a portion of Washington Street this Fourth of July, and implementing a new initiative are the latest ways the City of Sequim’s leaders look to support local businesses during Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Safe Start” plan.
One of the efforts grew from Sequim City Councilors unanimously agreeing to close a portion of Washington Street on Independence Day to encourage people to go downtown and visit businesses.
City Councilor Troy Tenneson said the idea is “a win for businesses” and “provides a way for people to be in the open air and interact.”
Sequim’s Director of Community Development Barry Berezowsky said he thinks it is a great idea and that it could be applied on weekends other than the Fourth of July, too.
Sequim City Manager Charlie Bush said in a phone interview that city staff and Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce representatives are outreaching to businesses to see what their level of interest is in participating.
City staff have been investigating other cities’ efforts to close streets temporarily for events and permanently for a bigger effect.
“We are just exploring ideas,” Bush said.
Deputy Mayor Tom Ferrell said Monday night he felt it was a “great goal” and he’d like a well-planned street fair where vendors come out with plenty of spacing.
“This is an exciting time,” he said. “I think this is an energetic step we take.”
Mayor William Armacost said this was an opportunity for the city “to expand our thinking outside the box.”
Bush also made an emergency order with city councilors’ support to loosen enforcement in the city’s Municipal Code in late May so that businesses could use temporary portable signs to bring more awareness to their establishment’s location, services and take-out and curbside orders during the pandemic.
Berezowsky said in May that other than loosening the sign code regulations there’s not much else they can do without investing more time in the ordinance.
“This policy would allow them to do whatever they wish to direct people to their place of business about hours, curbside, etc., so long as it does not impact pedestrians or traffic,” he said.
“It’s a step in the right direction.”
In the order, temporary signs’ faces must be 6 square feet or less and easily removable from a site.
They also can’t be placed in travel lanes, block sight distance at intersections or block pedestrian movement on sidewalks.
Berezowsky said the city holds the right to remove signs if rules are not followed.
He said if temporary signs become too prevalent it could be difficult to “reign back in.”
He said his plan is to hold a conversation in the next year about the city’s sign code that includes temporary signs and group signage.
Open Streets Initiative
Another emergency order (No. 2020-27), the “Sequim Open Streets and Special Events Initiative,” looks to partner the city and local businesses and property owners on well-spaced seating, curbside pickup and sanitation.
Berezowsky said the city is exploring options for more outdoor seating.
“We’re working with the (Sequim-Dungeness Chamber of Commerce) for communication particularly in downtown to get a sense of what they’d like us to do,” he said.
City staff said the initiative provides multiple elements, such as: providing picnic tables on city property; identifying parking spaces only for curbside pickup; scheduling street closures for safe shopping; allowing additional signage and outdoor seating; permitting art shows and performances in public spaces; locating hand sanitation near seating areas and at intersections; and, with discretion from the Public Works and Community Development Directors, temporarily waive fees required for Special Event Permits.
The initiative will be in effect until COVID-19 emergency orders are lifted.
For more information, call the City of Sequim Department of Community Development and Public Works Department at 360-683-4908.