August 14, 2000
New Bothell sign code 'Business Friendly'
Enforcement remains an uncertainty
by Christina Coughlin
Special to the Weekly
Although community members involved with the revision of Bothell's new sign code seem satisfied with the changes, there is concern about enforcement of the regulations which could cost violators hundreds of dollars.
City officials implemented the new code June 5. It replaced an outdated code from the 1960s said Gary Hasseler, Bothell's community planning manager.
Other changes according to Hasseler include greater flexibility for businesses with wall and window signs, fewer regulations for downtown Bothell and lowering the height of freestanding signs from 25 to six feet.
"I think it's absolutely the best code we could work together," said John Macho, who helped with the revision.
Macho, owner of Memory Bank in Bothell, said the new code was too restrictive by having separate rules for political signs and prohibiting such items as pennants.
He also voiced concern about enforcement of the regulations.
"[The city] doesn't have the initial staff to do it," Macho insisted.
Todd Woosley, housing specialist of the Seattle/King County Association of Realtors, said the Association is "quite pleased" with the revision but agrees it will be "problematic to try to enforce the code."
"Overall the city's resources are probably limited," said Woosley.
The Association has a self-policing policy, he explained, to make sure real-estate signs are in compliance with the law. But not all businesses are aware of the new regulations, making self-policing impossible.
"Because the sign code is pretty new a lot of people haven't been informed," explained Amanda Oliveira, the enforcement code compliance officer for Bothell.
Mike DeLack, the building official for Bothell, acknowledged that city staff-members are trying to educate residents and business owners about the new code which, if violated, could cost up to $250 a day in civil penalties, said Oliveira.
Despite some concerns about enforcement, overall people appear happy with the new regulations.
Marlene Bell, co-owner of Steve's Cafe in Bothell said that the new code is "readable, understandable and business friendly."
Bell, who was also involved in the revision, said the business community got what they wanted in the new code, mainly the legal use of sidewalk folding-signs that were previously prohibited.
"I think it's a good code," stated Macho who admitted that it took "a lot of hard negotiating to get a code that was livable."
"I think it [the revision] incorporated many of the concerns of the ... community," said Woosley.