WENATCHEE — Driving around Wenatchee, one thing is obvious: there are a lot of signs.
The city is now in the process of updating its sign code. It’s formed a committee and contracted with Makers Architecture and Urban Design to work on the issue.
Bob Bengford with Makers said signs have had a greater impact as tourism has grown in Wenatchee. One goal, he said, is to simplify the code.
“There’s a lot of room for improvement with your existing code, especially usability and the way it’s put together,” he said. “So probably, instead of doing strike and delete, we’re just going to replace the whole thing.”
About a dozen people attended an open house Tuesday evening at City Hall.
Types of signs discussed included pole, building-mounted and digital. Others included monument signs, like at Valley North Shopping Center, and A-frame, which are often seen on sidewalks.
“Digital signs are a big issue in almost every city, but Wenatchee probably has more of these signs than most other cities that I’ve been to,” Bengford said.
Concerns raised during Tuesday’s meeting included:
Trees blocking signs
Preserving sight lines
Proximity of digital signs to one another
Enforcement of sign codes
Signs used for wayfinding versus advertising
Addressing non-conforming signs
Questions posed included:
Should monument signs have information limits?
Where should the city allow illuminated signs?
Are light letters and dark background preferable?
Can properties have multiple signs with minimum spacing?
Where should the city allow pole signs?
Should the code prohibit video signs?
Bob Culp, owner of Munson Engineers on North Chelan Avenue, is on the committee tasked with helping update the sign code.
“My interest is in downtown,” he said. “I don’t want it to be modernized. I’d like it to resemble the historic nature it’s always had. It really is the heart and soul of our community.”
Still, he wants signs to benefit businesses.
“If something gets in the way of it, then it really needs a lot of discussion,” he said. “If somebody that doesn’t have an investment wants to see a tree, I think that’s not as important as somebody that’s going to go out of business because they can’t advertise their store.”
Marc Angelillo with Stream Real Estate in Seattle also attended the open house. His company is building a Residence Inn by Marriott near Walla Walla Point Park.
“The current sign code restricts our ability to both have a sign out on Walla Walla — we have a joint easement with the Draggoo (Financial Group) building — and then we can’t put a second sign which then says, ‘You’ve now passed the Draggoo property and entered the Residence Inn property,’” he said.
They’ve asked for a variance, he said, but he was curious to learn more about the code update process.
One concept raised during the meeting would mean a 3-by-4 sign for the Residence Inn and a 3-by-4 sign for the Draggoo building, Angelillo said, and that wouldn’t gel with Marriott’s sign requirements.
There will be other opportunities for public input, including a survey and meetings. The city expects to have a draft code ready by September and adopt it by the end of the year.