MARCH 3, 1997

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Taco Bell sign draws wrath of city commission

Taco Bell sign

The new Taco Bell in downtown Woodinville has an attention-getting bright purple sign and brightly lit interior.
Photo by Jeff Switzer/Northwest News.

Taco Bell by Jeff Switzer, senior staff reporter
WOODINVILLE--Saying the Taco Bell Corporation is not acting in the spirit of a good neighbor by erecting a "garish and jarring" sign, the city's Planning Commission penned a letter to the company Feb. 20 with a few choice words regarding the purple sign and bright lights. The commission criticized the brightness of the on-site illumination, which the letter said "creates a 'hot spot'" in the city.
   "The commission understands that on-site illumination reduces vandalism and other nefarious activities; however, this on-site lighting has the subtlety of an artificially lighted professional athletic field or a surgical suite," the letter reads.
   The letter also criticizes the fact that the menu is visible from the road. "The amount and hue of intense color on the large freestanding Taco Bell sign near NE 175th Street is garish and jarring," the letter reads, stating that color is important both to the city and to Taco Bell's neighbors.
   The letter notes that the developer was aware of existing sign conditions following Planning Commission design review of the development. "It is disingenuous of Taco Bell to withhold plans for installing the offending sign during design review and then surreptitiously install the sign after the fact. That is not the way to establish credibility in Woodinville," the letter reads.
   The letter also blasted the color of the building, which was disliked from the beginning of design review, and stated that the form and appearance of the structure are not compatible with the "Northwest Woodland Character" referred to in the city's visioning statement. "The finished Taco Bell development confirms the Planning Commission's apprehensions."
   The letter represents a request that Taco Bell "operate the Woodinville Taco Bell in a manner that is more sensitive to local norms than has been shown at present time." It also noted the need for awnings before the final certificate of occupation is issued.
   The letter concluded with an invitation to sit down and "facilitate a better relationship between the corporation and the city."
   According to the city, a Taco Bell representative indicated during design review that the Woodinville outlet would generate more than a million dollars of revenue annually.