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MailTribune.com
  • Jacksonville reconsiders ban on sandwich boards

  • JACKSONVILLE — The City Council will consider a resolution to allow sandwich-board signs when it meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Old City Hall, 201 Main St.
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  • JACKSONVILLE — The City Council will consider a resolution to allow sandwich-board signs when it meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Old City Hall, 201 Main St.
    The signs are not allowed under current codes, but Mayor Paul Becker on June 23 issued a 60-day moratorium on enforcement of the code after merchants complied with police requests to remove the signboards on June 20.
    The mayor was uncertain of his authority to do that, and City Council questioned the action when it met July 1.
    "There's no procedure for the mayor issuing a moratorium unilaterally. I knew I would take a little bit of flak," Becker said Thursday.
    City Attorney Alan Harper prepared the resolution, which calls for enforcement of sign code violations in situations that are a threat to life, health or safety. The resolution has no time limit.
    Planning and building technician Celeste Reising had contacted the Police Department to enforce the code after she talked with City Councilor Jocie Wall about a sandwich board outside Angelica Day Spa at 260 S. Oregon St.
    Police contacted the business owner and others at the Orth Building, 150 S. Oregon St. Business owners removed the signs at the request of an officer.
    Reising did what she should have done by calling a patrol officer on duty at the time, said Becker. He said it was unclear whether Wall had filed a complaint or was making an inquiry.
    "It was simply an inquiry," Wall said Thursday. She said the matter could have easily been handled in other ways.
    Joelle Graves of Sterling Creek Antiques in the Orth Building removed a sign. She then contacted the chamber of commerce, which contacted the city and the mayor.
    Becker's decree also called for development of a new code that would allow the signs. The city's Planning Department has spent nearly two years developing new codes, which would include sign regulations, but they have yet to go through review by the public, Planning Commission or City Council.
    "The ultimate goal for my part is to allow sandwich boards so long as they adhere to ADA regulations," said Becker. In his decree, he called the boards a time-honored tradition that "add a certain energy to the vitality of the area."
    Sterling Creek Antiques has displayed a sandwich board since it opened in November 2012. Graves said she had been told by Planning Director Amy Stevenson that if her sign was placed on a stoop and not on the sidewalk it would be allowed until the new codes were in place.
    "What she indicated to me was that she was in the process of rewriting and changing the code," said Graves. Her shop and several others in the Orth building are partially shielded by architectural features and recessed entries.
    "People get to the corner of California and Oregon and they try to see what the buildings are," said Graves. "They can't see, and they don't cross the street."
    Graves now puts out a different sandwich board, which she places on the stoop. She said she counted seven sandwich boards as she drove to work Thursday.
    "I don't think they are putting out a lot of signs," said Becker. "It's not as if there's a jungle of signs."
    Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboomwriter@gmail.com.
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