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Sign spinners: You can twirl in Denver...but not in Greenwood Village!

march-15-2012-cover.jpg
In Denver, sign twirlers live a relatively free life, at least when it comes to the city's regulations of the profession. As long as they stay off streets and medians and aren't actually panhandlers, they are obeying the law. But as we explored in our cover story, "Spin City!," other local municipalities have taken a less favorable view to the human billboards, either heavily regulating them or outlawing them altogether. Click through to read the Colorado ordinances that put a damper sign spinners' moods and moves.

In Thornton, for example,the city council cracked down on twirlers last year after businesses worried about the city's lack of regulations. At the time, there were none. Although Thornton officials continue to receive angry calls about the issue, spinners are not banned, only regulated. (Unlike Thornton's neighbors.)

Private property Sec. 18-705. Exemptions from the provisions of the sign code. The following types of sign devices are exempted from the provisions of this article, except as specified: (12) Private persons dressed in costume or displaying signs expressing messages that are within the protection of the First Amendment, subject to the following: a. The signs must be held by or attended by one or more persons; b. Signs shall not be inflatable or air-activated; c. In order to serve the city's interests in traffic flow and safety, persons and signs shall not: 1. Visually or physically obstruct, impede or block the flow of traffic or pedestrians on streets, sidewalks or trails; 2. Be located on a public street median or round-a-bout; 3. Conduct sales, transfer product, or collect monies of any kind; and 4. Obstruct or impede scheduled activities.

Public property
Sec. 70-11. Traditional public forum areas.
(b) Display right. In an area qualifying as a traditional public forum, private persons may dress in costume or display signs expressing messages that are within the protection of the First Amendment, without a permit, but subject to the following:
(1) The signs must be held by or attended by one or more persons;
(2) Signs shall not be inflatable or air-activated;
(3) In order to serve the city's interests in traffic flow and safety, persons and signs shall not:
a. Visually or physically obstruct, impede or block the flow of traffic or pedestrians on streets, sidewalks or trails;
b. Be located on a public street median or round-a-bout;
c. Conduct sales, transfer product, or collect monies of any kind; and
d. Obstruct or impede scheduled activities.

Since 1990, Greenwood Village has blatantly prohibited sign spinners of any kind. From there, the city ordinance continue, also outlawing inflatable signs, and signs on benches, poles or cars.

Sec. 16-21-430. General prohibitions. (SIGNS) (a) The following are specifically prohibited: (1) Spinners; (2) Search lights; (3) Light bulb strings, except temporary decoration or displays customarily associated with national, local, or religious celebrations; (4) Signs painted on or affixed to benches; (5) Animated, flashing or moving signs where any part of the message or sign itself changes position or color by movement; (6) Inflatable signs; (7) Roof-mounted signs projecting above the highest point of the roof line, parapet, or fascia of the building, or signs on walls enclosing mechanical equipment; (8) Building-mounted cabinet signs; (9) Pole signs mounted on one or more uprights, supports or braces, other than signs of a municipality, county, state, special district or the federal government, that are permanently placed on and anchored in the ground independent from any building or other structure; (10) A-frame signs other than sandwich board signs used for traffic control, the design and location of which have been approved in advance by the Director of Community Development; (11) Changeable copy or changeable color signs, any portion of which provides for temporary or changeable type, copy, logo, color, or any other graphic, by manual or electronic means, including electronic message displays with a fixed or changing display, but not including time and temperature signs, live data regarding public transportation, scoreboards, or gasoline price signs; (12) Off-site signs that announce, direct attention to, identify or advertise a service, business, location or activity that is not located on the same premises unless approved by a Planned Sign Program(PSP); (13) Signs on vehicles parked and visible from the public right-of-way, unless the vehicle is regularly moved in the normal day-to-day operations of an on-site business; (14) Signs permanently affixed to a parked vehicle, if the vehicle is parked solely for the purpose of displaying the sign.

In order to reduce sign clutter, the town of Parker also jumped on the bandwagon last year, outlawing most signs without government or religious purposes. The town's regulations include any commercial signage, providing a blanket rule before laying out the exceptions:

(b) No signs shall be erected or placed in the public right-of-way, except those erected by the Town, a licensee of the Town or the State in accordance with the Uniform Manual on Traffic Control Devices, as the same may be amended from time to time.

More from our Follow That Story archive: "Video: Sign twirlers show off their most popular tricks (without hurting themselves)."



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