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City Hall is going to LOVE you...

Discussion in 'General Signmaking Topics' started by thesignexpert, Oct 18, 2012.

  1. thesignexpert

    thesignexpert Active Member

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    ... at least that is my opinion in the latest blog post titled "Why City Hall is going to LOVE you"

    What do you all think about this? You all have had experience working with your local sign officials, zoning inspectors and sign boards. Do you think they would look favorably on a sign shop who was actively out helping the community this way? Even better, can you envision the local officials actually helping that shop since we have made it so easy to participate?

    I think it is intriguing myself.
     
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  2. Mosh

    Mosh Major Contributor

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    I do stuff like this in our town. I am on the local "sign commitee" as a non-voting member. But, they usually listen to my veiws. We meet three or four times a year, to review new signs that are in question, and any sign related stuff. I love when other shop from out of town come before the board and they see who I am....kinda freaks them out, but like I say I don't really have a vote.
     
  3. visual800

    visual800 Very Active Member

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    my city hates me and all other sign companies except for 1 special guy that is willing to rub the holes in his knees for them
     
  4. Gino

    Gino Major Contributor

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    What's really funny here is..... how many times members here have asked what they can do to increase business and we generally say something like ... go out and pound the pavements, cold calling and just looking for signs in bad repair. This proves if you go out and shake the bushes a little bit, you're bound to get a couple of leads if not real jobs a day.

    I would venture to say, if you took a half day each week and did this, you'd build such a backlog you'd have to hire more help.

    I've been doing this a little in the last few months and it has really increased some small sales. Nothing huge, but it pays the bills.... let alone puts some spending money in your pocket. :thumb:
     
  5. gnemmas

    gnemmas Active Member

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    Just got a $250 citation from the city taped to my door this morning. "window sign cover more than 25%". That was a follow up on a Notice of Violation a month ago. I contacted the Dept to plead the case using "graffiti alternative" as a reason, that blank windows invite graffiti and acid etching. They are not buying it.

    I am going to drive around town today, Spotting (taking pictures) of all the big businesses, Carl's Jr, Taco Bell, Chase Bank, Men's Warehouse etc. that has the same violation to see if they enjoy special exemption.
     
  6. Gino

    Gino Major Contributor

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    Before you go pointing fingers.... make sure the bigger ones didn't apply and receive variances.
     
  7. Moze

    Moze Very Active Member

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    Also, make sure you understand how the ordinance is written. Do they "box" the graphic as a whole or "box" individual sections when calculating square footage? That can make a huge difference.
     
  8. Joe Diaz

    Joe Diaz Very Active Member

    I'm actually a part of what is called the design committee for our town. We are made up of a few contractors, an awning guy, the head of zoning, the head of the local main street program, and some local downtown business owners. We have no actual voting power but we do make recommendations to the city council, that for the most part is well received.

    The main purpose of the group is to make recommendations on facade grants. The city will use TIF funds to meet a building owner halfway on the lowest bid for renovations and improvements to their buildings facade. The building owner could chose the high bid, but the city only pays for half of the low bid, so the extra costs comes out of the building owner's pocket. In order for that business to receive those funds, the city would have a say on the nature of those revisions. That is where our diverse group comes into play. The group also makes recommendations on things like what planters or light poles should we get downtown. Stuff like that.

    Now. Signs aren't a part of the facade grant, but strangely enough sign designs for the downtown only are brought up at meetings. It's never effected us negativity at all. We know our sign codes well so our signs are to code anyway and they look nice, so we have yet to have them turn down one of our proposals, which they can't do anyway, they can just make a recommendation.

    It's been brought up at several meeting whether or not we should try to include signs in the facade grants. It's a catch 22 though. If it were, sure we might be able to sell more higher price signs since the city would pay for half, however, it's more likely that business owners would be more attracted to the idea of purchasing the same signs they have always asked for, just at half price, plus these business owners would be required to seek out 2 more bids, which would be less than us anyway sooo... I've always argued that it shouldn't be apart of those grants and have so far managed to convince the rest of the group I'm right. For now.

    We've also discussed rewriting the sign code a few times, but honestly the code we have now isn't all that bad and isn't enforced well anyway. To open it up for review has the real possibility of making things worst, since the majority of the people putting their 2 cents in would be non sign makers anyway.

    Like I said the enforcement of our sign code isn't that great. Here again it's a catch 22. The head of zoning is a great guy, he just has too much on his plate. The bad part is, some regional sign shops will do work in town and not build things to code. When it's not enforced we look bad when we tell our clients that you can't do this or that, and they respond with, yeah buy so and so's business does. However if we were to make it a point to turn in every sign not made by us that is out of code, not only will we attract negitive attention back onto ourselves from zoning, but we will get a bad reputation from those business owners that are cited for zoning violations. So we keep our mouth's shut and we continue to follow the rules since they aren't that big of a deal anyway.
     
  9. Billct2

    Billct2 Major Contributor

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    We've got the window thing going on here now too. They try to make it a saftey issue, "police can't see in your business", which mostly applies to convenience stores open at night. So it's a bogus argument. Also, you could cover your windows with blinds or have a row of coolers blocking the same glass with no problem, or just paint out the glass and they can't do anything. It's strictly a sign prejudice.
     
  10. gnemmas

    gnemmas Active Member

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    There is no variance in this code. It is just plain selective enforcement.

    How do I fight this? Equal protection clause of the U.S. constitution?
     
  11. Gino

    Gino Major Contributor

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    A variance is not written into a code beforehand..... you apply for a variance to make change to an existing code to meet your needs. It costs money to apply and then the permit is usually more on top of that, but you can get something different, if you do it by the book and play your cards right.

    gnem..... you'll never see a variance. However, if someone didn't like you or you pissed a neighbor off, they could easily report you and if you hadn't applied for a permit, the city will come down even harder on you.... as it sounds they already have.

    My suggestion would be to go in and ask them how you can make this mess go away and not antagonize them with finger pointing. No one, and I mean no one, likes a snitch. Some of those could be grand-fathered in or as I said variances. Be careful.
     
  12. thesignexpert

    thesignexpert Active Member

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    :thread:thread:thread:thread

    Shame on you... all of you... pirating this thread... :Big Laugh

    I think everyone has definitely experienced the pains of dealing with the seeming legions of bureaucrats in every seat of power. Some sign pros participate in the process, follow the rules and make good attempts to be an involved citizen... others do not.

    So, the question is, do you guys feel that being an active business leader and proactively helping the community while simultaneously drumming up business for yourself is valid? Mosh, with your involvement with your local sign board, how do think they would respond to being able to easily spot sign outages with their smartphone? I wonder what the potential ethical issues would be if all of the board members could snap a lead of a busted sign, stick a note on the door and that sale went straight to you.

    Even after working on this for years it is an aspect I had not fully considered yet.
     
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