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Chamber tosses sign issue back to city hall

File photo

Of the Keizertimes

Your move, City Hall.

Last month the Keizer City Council asked a group of cosmetologists seeking amendments to the sign code – particularly on temporary signage – to go before a Keizer Chamber of Commerce committee for suggestions.

On Tuesday, the same committee kicked the notion back to city staff, who were asked to recommend a path of action for the Economic Development and Government Affairs (EDGA) committee to consider.

Kim Lewis, who rents a chair at a Keizer salon, has led the charge for some sort of change. She said her A-frame sign is not allowed by the sign code, but it also drives a significant portion of her business.

“I am independent, and I rely on foot traffic and people coming in,” Lewis said. “If I don’t have people coming in, like anyone else I don’t make any money.”

She also expressed objections she picked up from asking local business owners, like relaxing rules that only allow electronic signs to change their message every 15 minutes and allowing businesses to use props like balloons to entice customers.
Yet Community Development Director Nate Brown said all the temporary signage could end up causing clutter.

“I think it’s an aesthetic issue,” Brown said. “If there are balloons everywhere, it looks like trash.”

Lewis suggested perhaps alternative modes of signage – like flags that double as commercial signs – or allowing them on certain days, or only for a set number of hours. But she also questioned some of the intricacies of the ordinances – for example, she said, some signs are allowed only if they are fastened to the ground.

Melissa Shepherd, who like Lewis rents a chair at a local salon, said she had received conflicting information from city staff on which signs are allowed, and that people still ask if her salon is new, despite it being on River Road for more than 20 years.

Other issues came to the forefront as well. Dennis Koho, who owns a law firm in Keizer, said his business was down since a massive “For Lease” sign was erected to help find other tenants for the office building housing his business.

Rich Duncan, serving as chair of EDGA, said he wanted to see some minor changes recommended, but didn’t seem to embrace a full-on debate about the city’s sign rules.

“It would be very heated and long, and no one would be happy,” he said.

Shelly King, a committee member, said the sign code “makes Keizer look as nice as it is. It’s become a pleasant place because our city has taken the time to create a standard.”

Brown said the struggle is to try to meet the needs of businesses while also keeping aesthetics in mind and being fair to all involved.

“When you allow one person to have a bigger or flashier sign, it simply puts pressure on those other businesses to stay at that same level,” he said.