Wednesday, October 3, 2012

My Sign is Bigger Than Your Sign and It's Not Fair

The city is taking a look at the sign ordinance and will be recommending changes to the City Council. Right now, officials are holding public meetings to get the public takes on what the changes might entail.

We first heard about signs when someone filed a complaint about those "offensive" Catholic school yard signs. Neighbors reporting neighbors always seems to ignite a fire and this one seems to have fueled a bonfire. Not only will the city address yard signs of all kinds, but they will be revising language that affects businesses and their windows.

Ordinances need review periodically and the sign ordinance is no different. What gets scary is when the review swings left or right of the middle common sense approach. Local business owner Kevin Nyberg is right on the money and city official Jeff Schmitt seems out of touch on an issue affecting local businesses.

Window signs are currently exempt from the ordinance and businesses can fill up their entire windows if they want to in order to market their business. The city is proposing changing all that to make it "fair" for all business owners.

Schmitt has called window signage a fairness issue that makes things equal for businesses with and without windows, but Nyberg said entrepreneurs are competitive by nature and “fair just doesn’t fit our mode.”“I just don’t understand what you’re saying about it’s not fair,” Nyberg said. “If it’s not fair, go find another location and get windows. It’s marketing. It’s sales tax revenue. It’s being in business.”

Since when should the city be concerned about establishing fairness when it comes to individual businesses' ability to market their brand on their own windows? Businesses are competing for business. It is utterly ridiculous to think there should be a uniform ordinance that establishes all business marketing efforts the same in size for window signs and banners and how much space window signs can fill. Sometimes, people cannot see the forest for the trees.

If this ordinance review is like the ordinance review that took place regarding the parking of recreational vehicles on residential streets, then hang on to your hats. I have never seen so many RV campers, big house trailers masquerading as RV campers, trailers and boats on city streets until that ordinance was changed. There is one residential street close to my home where an RV camper, the size of a small house trailer, is parked in front of a residential home for weeks on end. The extender is out into the street and the thing is plugged into the house. The RV is so big it blocks the majority of the 3 car driveway and extends all the way to beginning of the neighbor's property. But I digress, back to signage.

Government is here to help make everything "fair" for the business owners and they have been working on it for two years. But in those two years of reviewing the ordinance language, they haven't talked to those corporate business owners whose marketing banners and signs are dictated by corporate offices.  Plenty of time to muck up free enterprise and local businesses' ability to compete in the marketplace and doing it in the privacy of one's own office without talking to the people they are affecting with the changes. Now that's the kind of help business does not need.

Where is the pro-business mayor on this issue?


  1. Just noticed your back to blogging, glad to see that!

    And you're correct, Nyberg is spot on.

  2. Gee ... will the city also get involved in determining whether it's "fair" that A has a bigger marketing budget than B, or that C has hired a person who majored in marketing in college while D makes-do with less 'professional' marketing materials? SHEESH. (And don't even get me started on the City that gave us a permit to put an RV pad in our back yard ... and then told us we were in violation of City Ordinance blah-blah-bah for parking our RV on that same permitted pad). (PS: welcome back!)

  3. Good to see you back Jenn, I was afraid I would have to take on the CRC by myself when they propose some more dumb changes to the charter (and they will - unrecorded on channel 16).

    I also ask the question, what has happened to capitalism? Now all of sudden we have to have a level playing field when it comes to signs? For someone who has worked in advertising for 19 years, I will tell any business willing to listen, 'Less is more' and apply the 'KISS' theory. Works everything, unless of course you are a fireworks stand.

  4. City ordinances are unenforceable. Code 2-66 denies appeals into court (citizen or city). Court order is the only way for the city to enforce directives. Per SD Supreme Court ruling, courts do not recognize Sioux Falls civil procedures. Make signs big, obnoxious, even pornographic. Put them wherever you wish.

  5. WELCOME BACK! You have been missed. I like your common sense approach to city issues. Nyberg is right on....Schmitt is off base. Sometimes the city trying to fix things makes them, banning text messaging. Cell phone usage should have gone along with that. Like the police say, how can you be 100% sure they are texting rather than just dialing up a number on the cell! It would be embarrassing to stop someone and have to ask them which they were doing so you can ticket them correctly.Oh, my!