Business owners are asking the city of Bend to reevaluate the rules governing the use of sandwich boards on private sidewalks, after businesses in the Old Mill Market Place were asked to take theirs down following an anonymous complaint.
The issue was raised at Wednesday night's Bend City Council meeting. Right now, you can have a sandwich board in front of your business with a permit, but with a limit of twice a year, for 60 days each.
Some business owners say the city needs to look at making the rules more defined.
Kirk Ermisch is the owner of the Southern Wine Group at the Old Mill Market Place. He said Thursday that one of the issues is that many of the tenants in the area were uninformed of what the code actually says. Some didn't even know you needed a permit.
Ermisch says some of the businesses in the complex are tucked away and hard to see, and sandwich boards are an effective way of bringing in business.
He also said he doesn't know why someone complained, but says the sandwich boards were tastefully done and didn't hamper with other rights on the city sidewalks.
"The enforcement of the code is only by complaint," said Ermisch. "So people that may not like their neighbor's sandwich board, or may think the sandwich board is ugly in their criteria, can make a complaint. And that person can get threatened or get an actual citation for $790."
Ermisch is asking the city to consider increasing the number of permits given for these signs throughout the year. He also says there also seems to be ways around the law to circumvent the code, and the city should take a closer look at that.
City officials say the sign code has been looked at five times in the last 20 years. City Councilor Tom Greene said Thursday that right now, councilors are looking into the issue and discuss whether this is an example of "selective enforcement," compared to other areas of town, such as downtown.