Ah, to be a member of the Raleigh City Council. Members run with the ambition of “changing the city,” of dealing with issues of profound gravity, some picturing themselves as one day going from City Hall to the White House.
But the reality is that many of the issues council members face require a little simple wisdom and more than a touch of common sense.
Consider the new ordinance on vehicles used as signs. As it stands, businesses can cover an automobile or a trailer with advertisements and just park it on their properties. If the owner or manager has an old beater sitting around, using it as an advertising vehicle, so to speak, is considerably cheaper than going to a sign company and having something built.
But some of the cars or trailers used for this purpose sit for years and can be eyesores. They also understandably get under the skin of those business owners who had to spring for a genuine, custom-made sign. Those types of signs are subject to city regulations on size and color.
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So the council now has moved to limit the use of plastered vehicles as signs. A business owner who uses his rolling stock as advertising is OK, as long as the stock is rolling. “If you have a car that’s wrapped in your logo, and you use it for your business, it doesn’t apply,” city zoning administrator Travis Crane says.
But rather than leave cars and trailers by the side of the road with signs on them, owners will have to keep cars 40 feet and trailers 100 feet from the right of way.
Some business owners who’ve been using their vehicles as stand-still advertising may claim the city is being a little big-brotherish here, but it’s not. Raleigh is a city now, and council members have a responsibility to keep appearances and also fairness in mind to those businesses with conventional signs and conventional headaches in complying with the rules.