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City silliness on signs

Bloomington Herald-Times, August 24, 2000

To the Editor:

From the end of June to the first week of August, the City of Bloomington issued 113 tickets for "illegal temporary signage". Our city administration says that this assault on business is what the people want, but reality does not match their rhetoric. In a poll done by the IU School of Public and Environmental affairs, 70% of the respondents said they oppose banning billboards in Bloomington. (This poll can be found at http://www.hoosiertimes.com/stories/1999/06/17/news.990617_A1_JLR70580.sto)

While this poll was specifically geared toward billboards, it would be easy to extrapolate from this poll that Bloomington residents are not clamoring for eliminating temporary signs in Bloomington.

For a small business, the choice is a tough one. Can they afford to leave the sign up and pay $50 a day in fines to advertise their business, or should they take the loss of business that will come because they are less visible to the public?

The Fernandez administration and the City Council seem obsessed with aesthetics. But aesthetics is not a good excuse for damaging small business in Bloomington. As long as these temporary signs are not blocking line of sight for traffic and are not in the public right of way, they should be left alone.

One person was quoted in the Herald Times as saying that the national chains ARE a sign. It is easy to spot a Bob Evans, but it isn't easy to spot a local small business that doesn't have a building as their billboard. The big chains won't be hurt nearly as much by this silliness as small business will.

In the 2000 county elections, voters must send a message that this is not acceptable. We must practice a strategy of "containment" and confine this silliness to the city limits, with the hope of eradicating it in 2003.

Scott Tibbs