Mayor enforces ban on sandwich signage on sidewalks
Bedford, TX -- (SBWIRE) -- 08/20/2012 -- Madison mayor Paul Soglin wants to ban some signage for businesses in the city. This plan has drawn sharp criticism from many business owners in the downtown area.
Soglin’s proposed enforcement of the city’s signage ordinance would ban sandwich boards in the public right-of-way (mostly sidewalks). In addition, illuminated signs would be restricted and window signs would be required to not cover more than 20% of the glass surface of the window.
The city’s signage ordinance has been on the books for several years, but hasn’t been enforced.
Business owners are already suffering from sluggish sales because of economic conditions. Many allege that the signage is critical for their businesses. These owners came together at an informational meeting at the Overture Center.
The owner of Mimosa Books and Gifts, which is located on Gilman Street in downtown Madison, says that her sandwich board is vital to her business. She also argues that the sign takes up very little sidewalk space and is the only signage she has.
Other owners run second floor shops/stores, or have businesses that are just off State Street. They need the sandwich boards to attract customers. Many smaller businesses simply can’t afford to advertise using traditional methods such as newspaper ads or ads in local telephone books.
Even the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce is wondering why the mayor wants to enforce the signage ordinance now after so many years of non-enforcement. They are concerned that there are much more pressing economic issues facing Madison at this time, and feel that Soglin’s plan will create more problems than it solves. Soglin has invited the leaders of the chamber to take part in a work group that will focus on the issues.
Soglin’s rationale is that many of the sandwich boards are unattractive and that disabled residents have trouble navigating around them. He says that the sandwich boards detract from the vibrancy of the State Street and the Capital Concourse areas.
Nearly 100 people attended the informational meeting, and most of them raised their hands when asked if they wanted signage to remain the same. Some business owners were even willing to pay a fee to keep their sandwich boards.
Business owners also think that Soglin should be focusing on more important things than an ordinance that hasn’t been enforced in 10 years. One business owner feels that Soglin has forgotten who elected him and who pays him, and is biting the hand that feeds him by trying to restrict their ability to make sales in a sluggish economy.
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