May 14, 2013

By Staff

Sign code revisions can build on success

The city sign code is as important to our feelings about Issaquah as the trees that line the streets. Signs are important to commerce, and help lead the way, but for the most part are visually pleasing, adding to the ambiance of the town.

That said, we’re glad to see the city of Issaquah taking the time to listen to business owners about possible revisions to the sign code ordinance.

The current sign code was adopted about two decades ago. Much has changed since then, including new buildings with taller heights, more mature city landscaping and entire new sections of town.

The most troubling aspect of the sign code is that Issaquah has two different sets of rules. A second set of sign rules came along with the Issaquah Highlands master planned community. We’ve never understood why one part of town would be treated differently, and are glad to know the city and its Economic Vitality Commission will address this.

The historic downtown sub-area plan also lays out a slightly different sign standard, primarily to address the more pedestrian and close-up drive-by traffic along Front Street. But, with redevelopment planned under the Central Business District plan recently adopted by the City Council, pedestrian signage will be even more important in the future. There is no reason the rules cannot be written to apply across the board.

For the most part, Issaquah’s sign regulations are fair and work well. Some problems that need addressing include visibility from Interstate 90, the excessive A-frames that clutter the business districts, the need for more directional signs to civic buildings, the encouragement of more creativity in store signs, and the need for signs at exits 15 and 17 off I-90 that welcome visitors to the city. Reader boards, taller signs, blinking signs have no place here.

We hope that future sign code revisions will be few, but some tweaks are needed to build on the pleasing visual images that permeate today’s business districts.

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