PTC’s ‘walking signs’: What others have done

Tue, 07/28/2009 - 3:25pm
By: John Munford

Peachtree City isn’t the first community to attempt to deal with business “mascots” and plain-clothed people taking to the roadside waving advertising signs.

The city’s first attempt, a suggested ban on all sign-holding visible from the road, fell flat with a unanimous “no” vote from the city’s planning commission July 13. The ban was proposed only for commercial speech and would not be enforced on any other type of speech, city officials have indicated.

The commission and the city council are meeting Thursday night at 6:30 p.m. to discuss the matter.

The ordinance as originally proposed would allow mascots in the rights of way so long as they aren’t holding or wearing any signs.

That might work well for businesses with recognizable mascots, such as the Mike and C’s hamburger and the Chick-fil-A cow. But it might not work for the chicken “hawking” customers for a local hair salon.

While business mascots and uncostumed “sign wavers” are a new trend in Peachtree City, several communities nationwide have adopted, or considered adopting, similar ordinances.

In 2006, McHenry, Ill., officials banned business mascots along roadsides.

In April 2007 the city of San Marcos, Calif., banned soliciting on roads with speed limits of at least 40 mph or within 100 feet of their intersections.

The City of Cottonwood, Ariz., currently has regulations covering “walking signs” that allow non-commercial signs including those for political, public and fund-raising events. Cottonwood’s ordinance also has a number of limits on walking signs including:

• No more than one per business;

• None of the signs may be thrown in the air, twirled, spun or tossed;

• Walking signs may use the public right of way or sidewalk unless they are deemed to be a safety hazard by city officials by “blocking visibility of traffic, blocking the safe passage of pedestrians or vehicles, or which has the potential to fall or be blown onto pedestrians or traffic.”

• Sign walkers are not allowed in a “sight visibility triangle” at street corners measured at 25 feet back from the edge of the street or the face of the curb; and

• The signs and/or mascots are limited to a height of eight feet.

Peachtree City’s proposed rules would not regulate the costume of any business mascot. Interim Community Development Director David Rast said that simply would have been too difficult to accomplish.

Several city business owners have said their costumed mascots alongside the road pay off with new customers. Particularly, they are helpful in showcasing the location of a business, the planning commission was told recently.

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