MARCH 3, 1997
Sign diversity can be attractive
Allow a new merchant in the Woodinville area to belatedly join the conversation regarding the new sign codes being considered by the city (Woodinville Weekly, Feb. 24).
One member of the Citizens Advisory Panel (CAP) implied that not all businesses need a sign on the street. Well, there are a few businesses that need no signs at all: Few doctors depend upon walk-ins, nor do institutions such as Molbak's depend upon front signage, but most businesses do depend upon street signs that will attract customers. As you limit the signs, so too do you limit the ability of the business to draw customers.
Another member of the CAP seems to make the rather sophomoric mistake of substituting one's own preferences for those of the community at large. I, for one, would not describe a visit to Molbak's as a "wonderful" experience, although it is a great place to go for plants. Nor would I ever bother to go to Edmonds or Kirkland to shop, as those downtown districts have nothing that cater to my interests.
Woodinville has no traditional "downtown" district that has a common architectural theme, as do those two towns, and 175th will never become a pedestrian paradise. The new TRF area may entice some pedestrian meandering upon completion, but I have yet to see a large strip mall of the type planned that would lead to the foot browsing one sees in a traditional downtown area or enclosed mall.
There is a need for city sign codes to set parameters and prevent abuses. But the fact that a sign does not meet the new codes does not necessarily imply that the sign is an eyesore that needs to be torn down. On the contrary, a diversity of professionally designed signs can be as attractive as a set of signs that all conform to a single color scheme that may appeal to the personal tastes of a select group but not those of other groups.
City sign codes should take into consideration local topography at the block level, stress professionally designed graphic content, take into consideration the area context, and prohibit signs that are truly out of line. And there is a need for the sign code to create an avenue for seeking variance that would allow for specific considerations of unique situations.
Before Woodinville becomes yet another dull waypost on the Yuppie sign trail, perhaps the city should take a breather and decide whether a specific color scheme used by some old traditional downtown areas is truly appropriate to the development of business in the area.
Rande Jaffe, Woodinville