I’ve read two reports in two different newspapers about Atascadero’s 100-person walk in September to address a number of business issues including the prevalence of non-conforming signs throughout the commercial district.
At least I thought the issue was getting rid of those illegal signs on our sidewalks and buildings. I’ve been carping about the city’s lack of code enforcement for several years and was elated when someone with the city or chamber told me I would be pleased that city and chamber were going to address the issue of those signs.
But then came the 100 volunteers who signed up to march into a potential of 450 businesses and ask them how their business is doing, what would improve local business conditions, what would your business need to be more successful and what type of exterior signage do you think is needed for your business.
I looked everywhere in the handout to find something that said something like “and we’ll tell those with non-conforming signs they need to come down.”
I eagerly awaited for the big reveal on the morning of Oct. 8 which, frankly, turned into a love fest touting that 92 percent of the businesses are doing fair to good and 65 percent are doing between good and great. For a minute I thought we were going to end the meeting by everyone singing “Kumbaya,” making S’mores and doing each other’s hair.
A number of business owners said they found the sign rules “confusing” and many were split on those sidewalk A-frame signs. The organizers showed a lot of pictures of really nice signs that could be built, but why would a local businessman spend thousands on a pretty sign designed by a graphic design expert when he can get away with slapping a vinyl banner on the front of his building for a couple hundred bucks?
But the main message of the morning was that Atascadero was doing great and the only problem is that there is too much negative news about the community.
Did the speaker mean that my wanting this city to get commercial signs out of the flower beds and non-conforming paper and plastic banners off building fronts was negative news? Does that mean the news media should not have reported that the cost estimates for the three roundabouts at the Del Rio Road and El Camino Real site were grossly underestimated, maybe to move the project forward? Does that mean opinion writers should refrain from saying Atascadero seems to attract thrift shops and exercise gyms in prime commercial property?
When Atascadero does the right thing, it will positively be reported.