Atascadero starts reading the signs

Several businesses along Atascadero's El Camino Real have sandwich-board signs on the sidewalk in violation of the city's sign ordinance.
Several businesses along Atascadero's El Camino Real have sandwich-board signs on the sidewalk in violation of the city's sign ordinance. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

The city of Atascadero is taking the right approach in dealing with the proliferating mish-mash of illegal signs in the city’s commercial zones. City staffers are personally contacting businesses displaying banners, sandwich boards and other advertisements that violate the sign ordinance.

The city is explaining the regulations, giving business owners 30 days to comply with the law, and slashing sign fees for 18 months to encourage merchants to install permanent signs. That’s far more effective than slapping business owners with fines right off the bat.

We sympathize with Atascadero businesses that are trying to encourage residents to shop local, but those flapping banners and sandwich signs crowding the sidewalk make the commercial strip look messy and unprofessional. They can also turn the pedestrian walkway into an obstacle course, creating a liability for the city.

We encourage Atascadero to follow through with its campaign to rid the city of illegal signs. And to those Atascadero businesses willing to ditch the sandwich boards, etc., we offer eye-catching bouquets guaranteed to meet code.

Water wasters need more enforcing

Water your lawn within 48 hours of a measurable rainstorm and you could be hit with a $500 fine at least theoretically.

The state enacted more stringent water conservation rules this week, but without a method of enforcement, those regulations don’t mean much.

And when was the last time you heard of someone being ticketed for wasting water? Never, right?

Consider this sobering statistic reported by the Associated Press: Residents of Santa Maria have been using 34 gallons a day more water than other Central Coast residents, yet the city has responded to only 20 calls about water wasting and hasn’t issued a single penalty. Los Angeles has mailed more than 5,000 warning letters, but has levied only two fines, for $200 each.

We aren’t huge fans of water policing, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

While we’re more than willing to shower brickbats on those annoying neighbors who don’t bother turning off their automatic sprinklers the morning after a rainstorm, we believe astern warning from authorities — followed up with a fine, if necessary — would be far more effective.

Praising Paso school’s ‘buddy bench’

A big bouquet of sunflowers is on its way to Winifred Pifer Elementary School in Paso Robles for spreading joy through its “buddy bench.”

The idea behind the buddy bench is simple: Students in need of companionship take a seat on the bench to signal that they could use some company. Students are taught that if they see someone sitting on the buddy bench, they should strike up a conversation or invite the student to play. What a great way for schools to teach empathy, foster friendships and help kids develop social skills. It’s especially helpful for students who may be new to a school or going through a tough adjustment period.

We’re told other local schools also have buddy benches. That’s good — this sounds like an idea worth spreading.