It would seem it’s time to relax in Spokane Valley.
Despite a small amount of protest at Tuesday night’s meeting, the Spokane Valley City Council is poised to loosen signage rules within the city that govern the number of signs businesses can have advertising alcohol.
The council voted 6-1 – Council Member Chuck Hafner voted no – to move the ordinance to a second and final reading on March 13.
The new law would allow businesses that offer alcoholic beverages for sale to have more than the state-mandated four signs totaling up to 1,600 square inches. The state law allows for municipalities to opt out of the restriction if they choose to create their own ordinances.
The request for Spokane Valley to develop its own law came from the owners of the Iron Horse Bar and Grill on Sprague Avenue.
At Tuesday night’s meeting, Linda Thompson, Greater Spokane Substance Abuse Council executive director, said an overabundance of signage advertising booze sends the wrong message to young people. She brought in examples of the signs’ size to show the visual impact they have.
“I’m asking that you help the youth of our city and keep the signage where it is,” Thompson said.
West Valley High School student Samantha Walters thanked the council for its contributions to Washington Drug Free Youth and agreed with Thompson that the signs should be limited to four or less.
“They’re not very big, but they catch my attention,” she said. “I work very hard to stay off drugs. If you see that the community is not supporting you, it’s very upsetting.”
The Liquor Control Board is not issuing any citations at this time, however they have been contacting businesses not in compliance with the state law and advising that a monetary penalty could occur in the future.
Hafner, who worked with Thompson to create GSSAC in the early 1980s, said he did not see the purpose of the city creating its own ordinance.
“I do not see the relevance of more signs,” he said. “More signs, to me, is the wrong way to go.”
Council Member Arne Woodard said that he hates to see the city be overly strict when it isn’t necessary.
“It’s one of those decisions you have to make where you don’t want over-regulate but you don’t want to under-regulate either,” he said.
Council Member Dean Grafos said it was a matter of private property rights and local control.
“People have a right to use their property to make a living,” he said.
“Here we have a deficit, yet there are state workers out here counting beer signs. I respect the programs in the schools, but we should not restrict these signs.”
Public testimony on the proposed ordinance will be taken again at the March 13 meeting.