The city of Spokane is considering a policy wording change that would permit, but regulate, new full-color digital signs downtown.
Such signs, which include those that display moving electronic text and images, were prohibited in a downtown plan update in 2008, but that policy conflicts with a citywide regulation enacted in 2009 that allowed such signs, says city planner Ken Pelton. Now, the city is considering amending the downtown planformally titled the Fast Forward Spokane: Downtown Plan Updateto replace the word "prohibit" with the word "regulate" as it pertains to such signs, Pelton says.
"A policy was adopted in 2008 to prohibit digital signs within downtown, but in 2009 we adopted a new sign code for the whole city" that said new signs would be regulated, he says. "The policies guide the regulations, so the city can't adopt a regulation that is inconsistent with a policy."
Pelton adds, "The policy change will enable the city to look at potential changes to the sign code to address how electronic signs are regulated in downtown Spokane."
He says digital message signs that already were in place downtown before 2008 were grandfathered in, including those at the Spokane Convention Center and the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena.
A public hearing on the proposed amendment was held Nov. 22, at which Pelton says support for the change was shared by the Spokane Public Utilities District, The Martin Woldson Theater at The Fox, and the Downtown Spokane Partnership.
He says the process to change the wording could take as long as a year to complete.
The city will go through a process involving business owners, the Downtown Spokane Partnership, sign companies, and residents before the Planning Services Department recommends to the City Council how such signs should be regulated, he says.
Pelton says the city's current sign code allows digital signs in areas zoned for commercial use, but says there are limitations on the size, length of message, and brightness of the signs.
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