Former mayor pays sign fine for Sequim eatery
Joe Smillie/Peninsula Daily News
Former Mayor Walt Schubert, left, hands a $125 check to Tarcisio’s Italian Place owner Randy Wellman to pay for the fine Wellman was issued for violating the city’s new ordinance that restricts temporary signs.
By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News
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The fine, the first issued under a new city ordinance, was given to the Sequim Village Shopping Center, owners of the strip mall at 609 W. Washington St., where Wellman has been advertising specials on a sign near the street outside his restaurant.
City Attorney Craig Ritchie said the sign was too large and too close to the street.
Schubert said Tuesday: “When I read it in the paper this morning, I just thought it was crazy.
“He doesn't deserve this.”
Schubert, who served as Sequim mayor from 2004 to 2010, said the new sign rules are hurting some businesses.
That, he said, cuts tax revenues and hurts the city's coffers.
“When you start biting the hand that feeds you, that doesn't make sense,” Schubert said.
“He helps pay for the operation of this city.”
Wellman said he received a barrage of phone calls Tuesday after the report of his fine was published in the Peninsula Daily News.
“It was overwhelming,” Wellman said.
“I even had people call and say they saw my sign in the paper and wanted to make Valentine's Day reservations.”
He put the sign for which he was cited back near Washington Street on Tuesday in an effort to get more business for the holiday.
Current Mayor Ken Hays said he has heard outrage from people who want to advertise with roadside signs and from those who want even tighter regulations on the signs.
“You never make anybody happy, sometimes, no matter what you do,” Hays said.
He said most of the members of the City Council wanted to avoid an overproliferation of signs along the city's streets.
“People come to Sequim because it's a nice place to live,” Hays said.
“And I think what makes it a nice place to live is the lack of a clutter of signs.”
But Schubert and Wellman said the ability to advertise is key for a lot of businesses in the current economic climate.
“You're in the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression, and city government is just making it worse,” Schubert said.
“Four or five years ago, when the economy was going good, I didn't have to have a sign out there,” Wellman said.
“But it's a different time now.”
Schubert said he felt disheartened by the new sign rule, which he said undid some of the more business-friendly initiatives the council undertook while he was in office.
He criticized the current council for creating a community that is not accommodating to business.
“Stand up and tell the council how you feel about the way small businesses are being treated,” Schubert said.
Hays noted that the council held months of discussions between business owners and others in the community before implementing the new sign ordinance.
Under the law, each tenant of a retail center can have a sign that is no more than 5 square feet or closer to the street than 20 feet.
Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at email@example.com.
Last modified: February 12. 2013 6:14PM