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Redmond seeks the low-down on old street signs


Family-owned Cornucopia Natural Foods on Northwest Sixth Street in Redmond has a sign that’s been in place since the 1950s, when the lot was a service station. I t’s a pole sign designed to be seen from far away.

“We’ve had a lot of customers tell us if it wasn’t for that sign up there, they wouldn’t see the store,” co-owner Carol Williams said Thursday.

But after construction of a bypass that reduced traffic on Sixth Street, the city passed an ordinance in 2008 that requires signs on certain streets, including Sixth, to be lower to the ground — what’s called a monument-style sign.

“Those pole signs are really no longer necessary, because we don’t have that through traffic problem that we used to have,” Redmond Mayor George Endicott said.

Understanding that businesses wouldn’t be very inclined to voluntarily follow the new rule, the city tried to make it worth their while.

“If you go to other places in the country where you have just row after row of pole signs, they start getting real cluttered,” Endicott said. “So the idea was to get rid of those and offer an incentive to the businesses up to $5,000 to help pay to remove those.”

Over 30 businesses have already taken the city up on the offer, leaving 17 holdouts. Cornucopia is one of them.

But visibility isn’t the only reason why.

Williams said that sometimes, drivers will run into her sign — and if she lowered it to the level of ones at monument size, that would create a higher risk of it being damaged.

“We just feel that we could not put a monument sign where it is because of the damage that might happen to it,” she said.

Endicott is trying to see the big picture and is hopeful the city can work with each of the holdouts to strike a deal.

“We don’t want to penalize businesses,” he said. “You don’t want to drive businesses out of your community over a sign, right? So we have to figure out some sort of cooperative arrangement to make this work.”

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