Very soon City Council will be considering implementing a sign kiosk program. The original intent of the sign kiosk program started more than a year ago and was solely developer focused. The basic idea was that a single sign would contain directional arrows pointing potential customers to the location of the homebuilder sales office. The idea of the kiosk was to “clean up” the clutter of home-builder signs along the roadways. Great! However, time often moves quicker than government and now there is a compelling reason I believe to expand the kiosk program to include local businesses and non-profits.
With the downturn in the economy, local businesses have struggled and some very notable ones have closed. An opportunity exists to come to their aid in a very positive way. Local business owners have pleaded with the city and City Council to let them merely place a portable sign near their main crossroads to help potential customers find their location. To date, due to enforcement of the sign ordinance, this plea has been unanswered. My belief is that anything the city can do to promote local businesses either by patronizing, promoting, and in this practical case, allowing additional signage would be very beneficial. This is an opportunity for Maricopa city government to demonstrate they are truly a “business friendly” city.
Regarding non-profit signage (for the most part these are startup churches), strict enforcement of the sign ordinance has caused all of their portable signs to be removed except that one sign may be placed in front of the building on the day they use the building for worship. Since several of these startup churches only meet one day a week often in a rented school facility, it is very hard for them to communicate their location on a consistent basis. All non-profits (worship centers, VFW, Optimist, Rotary, to name a few) have and continue to provide a very important asset in building this community. In addition to involvement in city sponsored events, non-profits have hosted a whole variety of children activities and helped the less fortunate. They provide an important ingredient to the fabric that makes Maricopa special.
Going forward, if the sign kiosk program is targeted solely to the development community, it sends a message that Maricopa desires to be no more than a “bedroom community” concerned merely with having more rooftops.
At the last Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, of with I chair, the Commission took the position to recommend that City Council consider two options:
1. Add local businesses and non-profits to the sign kiosk program
2. Suspend immediately the enforcement of the sign ordinance to businesses and non-profits until a similar solution can be formulated for them
Of course, if code enforcement is suspended for businesses and non-profits, they will need to exercise reasonable restraint to not re-create a cluttered roadway.
For the record, as a member of Maricopa’s Planning and Zoning Commission, I helped create the original sign ordinance. As stated earlier, the ordinance was originally targeted to significantly reduce the multitude of signs being placed along the roadway by the development community.
Now, time and situations have changed and government needs to be flexible to fix a problem by applying reasonable solutions. This is in the hands of City Council for their November 6th meeting. I trust they will recognize this as an opportunity to help promote local businesses and aid our important non-profits.