Why sign regulations matter
One of the most basic rules of urban design is that pedestrians need things to look at. Good walking cities are often visually messy cities.
For this reason, many urbanists are hesitant to support strong sign control regulations. Signs are things to look at, after all.
When Greater Greater Washington discussed illegal signs at the Uline Area earlier this month, many of the comments suggested that the signs should be allowed, or that the city shouldn't waste time enforcing sign rules.
I do think there is something to be said for a colorful streetscape, but it's easy to say that from the vantage point of an already heavily-regulated environment. A handful of illegal signs might very well improve the visual diversity of a street, but if we eliminated sign regulations entirely, is a "handful" what we would get?
In a previous job I worked in the zoning division of a local planning office. Part of my job was to process certain types of sign applications. Whenever I started to feel like I was wasting my time, I looked over to the image shown above, which I kept tacked to my wall. It was, and is, a healthy reminder that seemingly mundane regulations do make a positive difference to our built environment.
Cross-posted at BeyondDC.
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