A couple months ago I was pleased to learn that the city was finally going to deal with commercial signage, especially those nonconforming signs around the downtown. I’ve been carping about the city’s lack of sign enforcement for years.
Finally, I believed, something is going to be done.
What the city has come up with is one of the silliest things I’ve seen in a long time.
Thursday, the city is sponsoring “Atascadero Business Walk,” wherein it hopes to get maybe 100 volunteers to contact approximately 450 local businesses and ask them four questions:
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• How is business?
• In your opinion, what could be done to improve local business conditions?
• What one thing would your business need to be more successful?
• What type of exterior signage do you think is needed for your business to attract customers?
“Wait a minute,” I told a friend who informed me about the walk, “where do you say ‘Get your nonconforming sign out of the flower bed,’ or ‘When are you taking down that banner that’s been hanging on your building for three years when it is only allowed 30 days?’ ”
The quick response was that they (city and chamber folks) didn’t want to come off too adversarial. Thursday’s marchers will include city staff and Atascadero Chamber of Commerce with 30 team captains and hopefully more than 100 volunteers who will hit the pavement at 10 a.m. following a 9 a.m. news conference/kickoff event.
According to the information sheet I received, the Business Walk is a partnership between the city and the chamber. Each business will receive a resource card with contact information for the chamber, the city, San Luis Obispo County, Cuesta College Business & Entrepreneurship Center, S.C.O.R.E. and Downtown Main Street Association.
Once all the data is collected from the questions to be asked by the volunteers, there will be an “education program” to help businesses with sign design and, hopefully, some information about what the city’s sign ordinance does and does not allow.
Remember when you wanted to “punish” someone for an infraction of some kind, but be gentle about it, there’s the old expression “We’ll whip them with a wet noodle”?
I think this is the wet noodle approach, but I’ll get on board if I see nonconforming signs disappear from the planted median or flower beds and those ratty “temporary” banners taken down, along with sandwich board signs that are where they are not allowed.