The picture of a future, revamped, reformed sign ordinance in Soldotna is beginning to come into focus.
The city’s planning department has been working for several months to update the code to accommodate both modern, lit signs and smaller, more temporary ones. This week, the planning and zoning commission got a first look at some of the proposed new rules, and heard some feedback. Enforcement was a big concern for residents, including Joseph Rybak.
“I hate to say this, folks. I think it’s a great effort, what you’re trying to do. It’s a wonderful thing, something that should be done, but you’re all wasting your energy if there’s no way of enforcing this. And you should include some way in here of enforcement other than the general public having to come forth. If the general public doesn’t know about these things, and most of them don’t, there will never be any violations or complaints.”
City Planner Stephanie Queen says those complaints will be handled by her department. She says that in recent years, they have chosen not to do much enforcement, especially of temporary signs and the little sandwich-board signs, in particular, because they wanted to go through this whole process and find out what kind of rules would make the most sense.
“For the signage through town, once this new policy, if it’s adopted by the council, we will be very proactive in enforcing it and I think it will not be such a strain on our resources and time. But we won’t be relying on neighbors to call it in in order for us to act.”
Safety was another concern for some on the commission, particularly with the sandwich-board signs. Some are geared more for pedestrian traffic, but they’re tough to miss for motorists and sometimes even tougher to read while cruising by at 35 miles per hour.
And then there are the signs that pop up in public rights of way, like the intersection at Kalifornsky Beach Road and the Sterling Highway. Those will likely go away if they’re for a private business. However, Queen says they’re open to finding space for signs regarding community events.
“The city could, and some communities have, build a permanent sign with slots for organizations to sign up for one of those slots to advertise their event. I like that idea, I like that concept. That’s something we could explore more if there’s interest. That would take budget, that would take DOT giving us a spot to do that. It might be a challenge.”
A few other known changes at this point include limiting the size of temporary signs to 81 square feet. That space could be taken up by as many as five individual signs, but only for a total of seven days per calendar year. The Soldotna Planning and Zoning Commission still has work to do before shipping this off to the council, including proposals to regulate window and portable signs.