SEASIDE — Signs that wave like feathers on the sidewalk in front of businesses may tickle the fancy of shop owners, but they’re not too popular with city employees who try to regulate them.

Although they are showing up more frequently in the downtown core area and along Roosevelt Drive, the “feather signs” aren’t allowed under the city’s sign ordinance.

But that might change now that the Seaside City Council and Planning Commission have given City Planner Kevin Cupples the go-ahead to develop regulations for the signs.

“I think they’re marvelous, if they’re in the proper spot,” said Mayor Don Larson during a joint City Council-Planning Commission work session Tuesday night.

Available in an array of colors, the feather signs are made of a light material and are shaped like a feather. They are attached to aluminum poles, and the stands are placed in holes drilled in front of the stores. Many of the holes were already there for the American flags that are placed along the sidewalks during Fourth of July celebrations and other holidays.

Cupples expressed concern that some feather signs may be placed in the public right-of-way where people walk.

However, City Manager Mark Winstanley pointed out that the city’s public works crew would be drilling the holes for the signs and would be careful not to drill them in the public right-of-way.

Others attending the meeting wondered if the signs would create too much advertising clutter downtown. So far, most either say “open” or have a generic illustration and words, such as the sign that says “sandwiches” in front of the Tsunami Sandwich Company.

Marc Posalski, owner of The Coffee Shop at Seaside, brought his “espresso” sign to the meeting. He said the feather signs’ different colors “make the city colorful.”

“I don’t have to put the ‘Coffee Shop at Seaside’ on it,” he said. “The fact it says ‘espresso’ or ‘sandwich’ tells people it’s open.”

Many business owners are restricted from putting signs or banners on buildings they are renting, Posalski said. “We may have only a small sign. It looks desolate.

“These flags are welcoming,” he added. “People know the shop is open. They want to come back. They can see 50 yards away rather than go all the way down the street to see.”

Planning Commissioner Steve Winters said the signs set a “nice tone” for the town.

“It’s a very small thing, but it’s atmospheric, and it gives a good feeling,” he said.

Cupples said he would work with members of the Seaside Downtown Development Association and the Seaside Chamber of Commerce on guidelines for the signs’ placement and appearance and bring the guidelines back to the commission and council for approval.

Although feather signs were greeted with some enthusiasm, when the subject turned to sandwich boards, the enthusiasm disappeared.

Sandwich boards are permitted only on a business’s premises within 10 feet of the front door, but they often end up on the sidewalk, Cupples said.

“Are there sign ordinance violations all over Seaside?” he asked. “Yes there are.”

City Councilor Tita Montero worried about the danger they pose.

“Our sidewalks are narrow. If someone isn’t looking, they could trip over them,” she said.

The problem in the downtown area, Cupples said, is that it’s difficult to tell what is public right-of-way and what is private property. Some signs may be legitimately on private property, but to the average observer, they look like they are on the public sidewalk.

“It creates a perception that we’re showing favoritism for some businesses because people can’t tell where the property is legally theirs,” he said.

The city handles many more complaints about sandwich boards than about feather signs, Winstanley said.

“The vast majority of complaints come from other businesses,” Winstanley said. 

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