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More relaxed sign code in the works

The Keizer Planning Commission opted to allow full-coverage window signage by removing proposed restrictions from its recommendation. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Of the Keizertimes

The City of Keizer will relax its restrictions on electronic message signs if the Keizer City Council adopts a raft of small but impactful changes approved by the Keizer Planning Commission at its meeting Wednesday, March 14.

If approved, all businesses and agencies with electronic signs could change their messaging every 15 seconds. The current code only allows for one change every 15 minutes and distinguishes between public and private agencies.

The details of the electronic message center (EMC) policy was one of two issues that dominated the meeting, the other significant portion was dedicated to rehashing plans for what to do about signage in windows.

Prior to last week’s meeting, members of the commission had talked about a 60-second standard for EMCs, but further testimony by a representative of the Keizer Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Committee (GAC) prompted another drop in the timing.

“We like that it reduces the current requirement,” said Jonathan Thompson, speaking for the GAC. “We’d like to see it dropped even further to eight seconds. I don’t know that you would see a lot of changes. We don’t see it as turning River Road into the Vegas strip.”

Community Development Director Nate Brown urged caution in making drastic changes. While River Road may not have many EMCs right now, the price of investing in such technology will likely only get cheaper, Brown said.

A motion to drop the timing to eight seconds died in a 4-4 vote, but reducing the timing to every 15 seconds passed in a 4-2 vote. Commissioner Mike DeBlasi was absent during the meeting but submitted comments beforehand.

Commissioners cited the opportunity to engage the public through the EMCs as one reason for increasing message turnover. In 2017, the Keizer Police Department made effective use of EMCs and static readerboards along River Road North to draw attention to discussions the city had regarding a fee for police services.

The other main topic of the evening was window signs. At meetings in August and September 2017, members of the commission discussed some businesses use of in-window cling advertising that doubles as sun protection. At several businesses along River Road, and elsewhere, such signage takes up most of the windows. According to the existing code, the only signage allowed in windows are those that are hung or painted on the inside of the window. From a technical standpoint, the window clings have no legal establishment or prohibition.

When the notion of addressing window clings came up last year, some members of the commission advocated for reducing the allowable space to 50 percent of the window. The idea seemed to be aimed at reducing coverage of an entire wall of windows, but it was never explicitly stated as a per-window allowance. As a result, city staff came back with a proposal to reduce window cling allowances to 50 percent of the space in a single window.

When commissioners took a second look at the idea, they walked back on some of the previous conversation and pushed for 50 percent coverage of a business’ entire “glazing,” or window space.

Despite staff concerns about the aesthetics of wall-to-wall signage if business owners were given free-range, commissioners agreed to remove restrictions on window clings entirely from the code updates.

Other changes the sign code approved by the Keizer Planning Commission include:

• Eliminating a category dealing with election signs. Residents will now be allowed unlimited temporary signs in the 45 days prior to and seven days after an election.

• Creating a special permit for large real estate signage.

• Relaxing restrictions on temporary/portable signage for businesses.

• Allowing special permits for grand opening and special occasion signage.

• Allowing signage on secondary frontage for businesses that are not part of integrated centers.

To review all the recommended changes, download the meeting agenda at