“Get that Hoohna Shine” signs liven upÂ anÂ alley behind Ambaum Blvd. SW near SW 151st Street. Photo by Scott Schaefer.[/caption] The City of Burien City recently issued a temporary moratorium onÂ the enforcement of certain sections of the city’sÂ Sign Code, allowing for the types of signs that previously were prohibited. City Manager Kamuron Gurol last weekÂ issued “Executive Order No. 2015-4,” aÂ moratorium that will allow businesses to use A-frame, T-frame and other portable or moveable signs, without risk of code enforcement fines. Previously, the city was known for strongly enforcing sign codes, even to the point where some businesspeople blamed the code enforcement officer for their business woes. But what’s the reason? To stimulate the local economy? Not quite. â€œThe moratoriums are an important step for the City to take in light of a US Supreme Court decision that came out about two months ago,” Community Development Director Charles W. “Chip” Davis told The B-Town Blog. “Theyâ€™re intended to be temporary to give the City time to respond to the implications of the case.â€ Here’s whatÂ the Community Development Department issued:
Pursuant to Executive Order No. 2015-4, the following moratoriums on the City of Burienâ€™s enforcement of certain sections of Burienâ€™s Sign Code are hereby called to your attention:Read Executive Order No. 2015-4 (PDF file). Here’s some background info on the Supreme Court decision (Reed v. Town Of Gilbert â€“ June 18th, 2015):
- There is a moratorium on the Cityâ€™s enforcement of the prohibition in BMC 19.30.040(1)(L) against A-frame, t-frame and other portable or moveable signs.
- There is a moratorium on the Cityâ€™s enforcement of the rules around special event signs, community event signs and political signs.
- There is no longer any requirement to first apply for a permit before posting a special event or community event sign, so the Community Development Director will no longer be accepting, reviewing or making any decisions on such applications.
- These moratoriums are effective as of the issuance date of Executive Order 2015-4, and will continue until further notice from the City.
Reed v. Town Of Gilbert concerned a municipal sign ordinance that imposed more restrictions on signs announcing church services and fewer restrictions on signs promoting political candidates. The Court held that subjecting signs to different restrictions based on the type of information they convey, e.g. more restrictions on directional signs and fewer on political signs, was a violation of the First Amendment. Because Justice Thomasâ€™s opinion seems to vastly expand what counts as â€œcontent-basedâ€ discrimination in sign ordinances, Burien is taking the prudent step of not enforcing rules that would be subject to strict scrutiny. For businesses, this means that the City will no longer be enforcing bans on moveable commercial signs while allowing moveable political signs.“Because the Sign Code, with its many parts, has many potential stakeholders and will be complicated to amend, the work of identifying amendments necessary to respond to the recent U.S. Supreme Court precedent should not be hurried,” Davis added. Â “We intend to have a public process, beginning in January 2016, to discuss potential amendments.” ]]>