Arlington’s food trucks may have an easier time adhering to the law if the County Board adopts changes to an ordinance this weekend. The parking issues that have been plaguing food truck vendors and resulted in legal battles in recent months will come up at Saturday’s board meeting.
Proposed ordinance changes include extending the amount of time food trucks can park in one space from one hour to two hours. Currently, food trucks must move after one hour, but the ordinance wording is vague and doesn’t specify how far the vehicle must move, causing problems with enforcement. That’s another issue board members will examine on Saturday.
Food truck vendors have argued that the 60 minute rule hurts business because they were often forced to move in the middle of a lunch rush, or else face a citation. County staff appears to agree, based on the following excerpt from the staff report:
This time limitation is challenging for vendors and customers when typical lunch hours are between 12:00 noon and 2:00 p.m. A vendor is not able to adequately serve customers and patrons are unable to purchase lunch if their hours don’t correspond. Further, the overwhelming majority (approximately 90 percent) of parking meters within the Metro Station Areas are for at least two (2) hours.
Under the proposed ordinance amendments, the two hour limit would only cover time when vendors are actively selling to customers, not food prep time or clean up time. After a vendor’s time expires, sales would be required to stop and the vehicle would need to be moved to another marked parking space. If the parking area does not have metered spaces, the vehicle would need to be moved at least 25 feet.
Last month, a representative for the Food Truck Association of Metropolitan Washington told ARLnow.com that the organization supports the county’s proposed ordinance changes.
Advisory Lifted for Local Waterways — A warning from Arlington County to stay out of Arlington Branch, Lower Long Branch and Four Mile Run has been lifted. The advisory was issued on April 9 after a sewage release near Columbia Pike. “The precaution was issued to allow time for the effect of the release to be diminished by natural flushing of the streams,” the county said. [Arlington County]
Husband of Track Coach Caught Boston Chaos on Camera — John Walls, the husband of Bishop O’Connell cross country and track coach Cindy Walls, captured the chaos of the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings on video. Walls was waiting for Cindy and his daughter Katie to cross the finish line when one of the bombs exploded across the street from where he was seated. He was shaken but uninjured. [WJLA]
Burned-Down House Cited for Code Violations — The Hall’s Hill house that was destroyed by fire yesterday has been cited several times in the past for building code violations. Officials are now investigating whether property owner Paul Chretien was in violation of the code by allowing more than four unrelated people to live in the house. [Washington Post]
Police Seek Theft Suspect — The Arlington County Police Department is asking for the public’s help in locating a 21-year-old man who stole an iPhone. “Police believe that the suspect has also been involved in several other crimes,” according to a press release. [Arlington County]
Under the current ordinance, known as Chapter 30, food trucks are only allowed to remain parked for up to one hour. After that, they must move — but the current ordinance is vague and doesn’t specifically say how far they must move. Also, the ordinance contains contradictory language that can be interpreted as suggesting there is no time limit.
Food truck owners argue that the 60 minute limit hurts their business, as it can force them to shut down and move in the midst of the breakfast or lunch rush, even when customers are lined up. Since the trucks frequent busy Rosslyn, Ballston and Crystal City, that often means spending valuable sales time searching for a new parking space.
Food truck owners, fed up with getting ticketed for loitering when they refused to move, recently started mounting legal challenges against the ordinance, attacking the vague language. Last month they succeeded in getting prosecutors to drop loitering charges against one truck that was ticketed after police said it didn’t move “far enough.”
At the time, county officials acknowledged that the ordinance caused challenges for food vendors.
“We realize that the 60-minute time limit is challenging for vendors and for customers, and we are working to change it,” Arlington County spokeswoman Mary Curtius told ARLnow.com.
True to that promise, county staff is now proposing that the food truck parking limit be raised to “the lesser of two (2) hours or the lawful time limit prescribed for the respective parking meter zone.” After that, the a food truck must only move to another marked parking space or 25 feet in the absence of marked spaces.
The County Board is set to vote to advertise a hearing on the proposed ordinance change on Saturday. After the hearing, to be held on April 20, the Board would then vote on whether to actually change the ordinance.
The one hour street vending limit was set in 2008, after the County Board voted to raise the limit from 5 minutes. From the county staff report:
Since those changes in 2008, there has been continued growth in vendors — mobile food trucks, carts and tables have increased in populated areas of Arlington. Social media has assisted with marketing for vendors, and customers have flocked to them. Today, Arlington has approximately 100 licensed mobile food vendors. The increased popularity of the mobile food vendors has raised questions about the regulations, including the amount of time permitted for vending, appropriate locations for vending, and the overall enforcement of Chapter 30.
Chapter 30’s current language has made it difficult for vendors, does not accommodate customers appropriately, and creates an enforcement challenge. Enforcement is time consuming and the ordinance does not provide clear-cut specificity. Additionally, a thorough reading of the ordinance highlighted an issue in which the construct of the language in Section 30-9 allows for a departure from the original intent of a time limitation for vending to a permissive allowance of vending anywhere, with no time limitation, so long as the vending occurs between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.
“This interim amendment addresses several inconsistencies and is just one element of the comprehensive updates that will benefit all of Arlington’s businesses and customers,” said Arlington Economic Development spokeswoman Cara O’Donnell. “As we move forward in the process, we’ll be having conversations with all stakeholders for input.”
An association of local food truck owners say they’re happy with the county’s proposal.
“The Food Truck Association of Metropolitan Washington is extremely pleased that Arlington is continuing its efforts to make the County a place where small businesses like ours can grow,” said Doug Povich, owner of the Red Hook Lobster Pound truck. ”Of all the jurisdictions in the area, Arlington seems to understand best how manage the various interests of all stakeholders in a way that benefits everyone. We look forward to continuing our work with the County as it is moves into the next stage of its regulatory process.”
Currently, under Arlington County Code 30-9, food trucks are prohibited from vending on a public street for more than an hour in one spot. The enforcement of that portion of the Arlington County Code led to an outcry among food truck owners, who say it unfairly targets their business in order to protect brick-and-mortar restaurants.
Late last year, the Institute for Justice, an Arlington-based libertarian law firm, announced that it was taking up the case of Arlington food trucks as part of its National Street Vending Initiative, which seeks to break down legal barriers for street vendors. Today, that effort bore fruit.
An Arlington County judge, at the request of prosecutors from the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office, dismissed a loitering charge against Hyun “Anna” Shil Goree, co-owner of the Seoul Food truck. Goree was charged with the crime — a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500 — after a police officer determined that she had not moved her truck “far enough” to comply with the law.
Last year Goree was fined $25 and $200 after pleading no contest to street vendor loitering charges in August and October. After being charged again in December, she decided to fight back, enlisting the help of the the Institute for Justice and the law firm of Gibson, Dunn, & Crutcher LLP. The charged was dismissed today via a nolle prosequi motion.
The Food Truck Association of Metropolitan Washington, which has spoken out against the Arlington ordinance, says the dismissal is a victory against an arbitrary law that’s “vague and open to different interpretations.”
“This case highlights the absurdity of treating what amounts to a parking violation as a crime on par with assault,” said Doug Povich, co-owner of Red Hook Lobster Pound truck and Chairman of the Food Truck Association. “The Food Truck Association hopes to work with the County in the months ahead to craft a food-truck law that serves the County’s residents and workers and keeps food trucks as a vibrant part of Arlington’s business community and streetscape.”
Arlington County spokeswoman Mary Curtius said the county is indeed working to change the ordinance.
“We realize that the 60-minute time limit is challenging for vendors and for customers, and we are working to change it,” Curtius said. “We hope to be bringing something forward in the Spring.”
Arlington Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos said she asked for the charges to be dismissed after consulting with the police department.
“I made the decision… in consultation with the police department and with the awareness that the current ordinance is very difficult to enforce,” she told ARLnow.com. “It’s difficult to enforce because it requires a police officer to watch a truck for an hour (or some other witness willing to come to court to testify to the fact that the food truck hasn’t moved in 60 minutes)… then there is the definition of ‘move’ that is also problematic. Does it mean an inch? A parking space? Around the block?”
“The officers were responding to requests from store owners to enforce the ordinance,” Stamos continued. “Unfortunately, the ordinance, as written, is rather unclear and a criminal statute is always construed against the Commonwealth and in favor of the defendant, which is as it should be.”
Stamos said it’s “unlikely” that her office will prosecute additional loitering cases against food trucks until the County Board updates the ordinance.
The full press release from the Food Truck Association, after the jump.
Despite the fact that the election was two weeks ago, some political signs still have been spotted in public spaces around town in recent days. That’s against county code, but residents are being told to report, not remove rogue campaign signs.
Per code, all political signs were to be removed from the public right of way (such as road medians) by the campaigns within five days after the election. Those that remain are subject to confiscation by county staff. Residents who notice lingering signs are asked not to remove them; the signs are to be removed only by the organization that originally placed them, or by county zoning staff.
The regulations are part of the larger sign ordinance, which has been revamped this year. Audrey Clement, who ran for County Board as a Green Party candidate, spoke at the Board meeting on Saturday (Nov. 17) to complain about the lack of enforcement for the sign rules. Clement pointed out that leading up to the election, no more than two signs are to be placed in a public space. She reported to have sometimes seen “six to a median.” Clement also said she went around the county to remove her own signs after the election.
“Given the level of abuse, what is the point of wasting countless hours of community and staff time to revise an ordinance that the county itself ignores?” said Clement. “If the losers uphold the law, why can’t the winners enforce it?”
Board member Jay Fisette noted that candidates at the federal level would probably be less likely to know Arlington’s ordinances, but said they should have been informed of the regulations. He said Clement’s concern was warranted.
“Whether they’re federal, state or local candidates, the county should be enforcing them,” Fisette said.
Not all signs in Arlington fall within the county’s authority, however. Campaign signs along VDOT-maintained roads are subject to enforcement and removal by the state.
County staff has been removing signs they see or that are reported along county roads. Anyone who wants to report a political sign in violation of the ordinance may call code enforcement at 703-228-3232. The county is encouraging residents who wish to dispose of a political sign on their own personal property to recycle it.
Board Votes Against Taxi Driver Proposal — By a contentious vote of 3-2, the Arlington County Board last night voted against a proposal that would allow taxicab drivers to be issued taxi operating certificates on an individual basis. Currently, only taxi companies are granted certificates in Arlington. County Board Chair Mary Hynes, along with Jay Fisette and Libby Garvey, voted against the proposal, arguing that the current system is working well for riders. Chris Zimmerman and Walter Tejada took the side of a coalition of taxi drivers that has been pushing for a driver-based certificate system. [Sun Gazette]
Meetings for Noise Control Ordinance – Updated at 8:45 a.m. — The County Board last night voted unanimously to defer a scheduled hearing on a series of proposed changes to the county’s noise control ordinance. Instead, two public meetings will be held to discuss the changes, in advance of a Board vote on advertising and holding a public hearing on the revisions. The first meeting will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 13, from 6:00 to 9:30 p.m. at the 2012 Navy League Building (2300 Wilson Boulevard). The second will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 14, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the Shirlington Branch Library (4200 Campbell Street). [Arlington County]
Examiner Endorses Murray — The Washington Examiner has endorsed Republican Patrick Murray in the race for Virginia’s 8th District congressional seat. The paper lauded Murray’s military experience and said he “is clearly the better choice.” Earlier this month the Washington Post endorsed Murray’s opponent, long-time incumbent Rep. Jim Moran. [Washington Examiner]
Among the proposed changes, county staff is recommending an increase in the fine for a noise violation from $25 to a maximum of $2,500. Jail time would also be possible under the revised ordinance.
The county started the process of revising the ordinance in 2009, which the Virginia Supreme Court ruled that a provision in Virginia Beach’s noise control ordinance — a “reasonable person” standard for judging noise violations — was “unconstitutionally void due to its vagueness.”
Arlington’s current ordinance contains the same “reasonable person” standard. At the moment, the only enforceable parts of the ordinance require police or inspectors to either use a volume meter to see if noise is above a set threshold, or to catch someone engaging in a “prohibited act,” like idling an engine for too long or sounding a car horn for reasons other than as an “emergency warning signal.”
The revised ordinance will help with enforcement of the ordinance by clarifying how sound level meters are to be used to determine violations.
Under the ordinance, construction and special event noise above 90 dB will be prohibited. According to the staff report, it also “strengthens requirements to have developers and owners determine and provide industry-standard sound mitigation solutions for noise sources at construction sites.”
The threshold for vehicle noise will be 70-90 dB, depending on the vehicle’s speed and weight, and the threshold for other sources of noise will be 55-70 dB, depending on which part of the county the noise is impacting (residential, commercial, etc.).
The new ordinance also clarifies some of the “prohibited acts.” For instance, it will prohibit residents from playing music or blasting their TV so loud that it can be heard in another apartment or house at least 20 feet away, or in an adjacent yard at least 50 feet away.
The county government and its contractors are exempt from the ordinance.
There’s been a large scale revamp of the sign regulations in Arlington’s Zoning Ordinance. The County Board approved changes to the ordinance during a marathon meeting last night (Tuesday) that stretched into the early morning.
The effort is intended to clarify gray areas, modernize the regulations and to make them easier for everyone to understand. Major issues included signs placed in the public right-of-way by private parties, the County Board’s involvement in reviewing sign requests and regulations for roofline signs.
Board members Walter Tejada and Chris Zimmerman pushed for a ban on commercial roofline signs — those installed above a height of 40 feet — but it didn’t pass. The county Planning Commission favored the ban, but county staff recommended keeping the signs. The remaining three Board members ended up siding with county staff.
The Board acknowledged the difficulty of resolving the issue and pleasing all involved parties; speakers representing business interests (and some residents) at the meeting spoke in favor of keeping the signs, while a number of residents said they’d like them removed.
“We are being overwhelmed by this development,” said resident Jim Hurysz, speaking against rooftop signs. “If I wanted to live in downtown Las Vegas, I’d live there.”
“I like signs. I look for signs to know where I am. It’s useful, it’s attractive,” countered Rosslyn resident Valerie Crotty. “You’re not living in a suburb. You’re not living in a rural area.”
“All of these companies are now asking themselves ‘does Arlington not want us here?’” said Arlington Economic Development Commission member Marty Almquist. “‘Are they embarrassed that we’ve decided to locate here? Are they not interested in this live, work, play concept that has been touted for the Metro corridor?’”
“In the past, Arlington could rely on companies to relocate here,” Almquist continued. “That will all change when the Silver Line opens in 2013. Tysons Corner and Reston are going to be Metro accessible… that means Arlington needs to have at its disposal a variety of incentives to our tenants to persuade them to move here or stay here… one of those incentives needs to be signage.”
Board member Libby Garvey supported the signs, saying they distinguish Arlington and highlight its exciting atmosphere as an urban village.
“It’s so hugely personal,” Garvey said. “To me, if they’re done well, the sign, it gives the building a personality.”
Under the new regulations, businesses will have to limit the use of lighted signs to 8:00 a.m to 10:00 p.m. (a midnight cut-off was originally proposed) if they face national monuments or lands, such as Arlington National Cemetery or the National Mall. Those signs also will be limited to only one per facade. The Board approved limiting the brightness of lighted signs that are within 100 feet of residential high rises.
Board member Jay Fisette noted that whether for or against lighted signs, addressing the issue in the ordinance is “evolutionary.” Previously, the county did not have any set standards for these types of signs.
Existing signs that previously had been approved but may not meet the new standards will be grandfathered in, at least for now.
Much of the approval process for new signs will now lie with county staff, instead of requiring Board approval. It was noted that this provision is not designed to allow the approval of a higher percentage of signs or to make the regulations less stringent, it’s simply to reduce how often individual sign issues have to go before the Board, so members are freed up to deal with other issues. Small businesses had frequently expressed disapproval over the length of time involved with the sign permitting process, considering 30-40 percent of them had to be approved by the Board.
The final point garnering attention dealt with signs in the public right-of-way. Under the new regulations, temporary signs advertising lost pets or community events — such as a meeting or spaghetti dinner — will be allowed, provided they meet size requirements, are secured to the ground, and stay in place for no longer than seven consecutive days. Noncommercial signs that aren’t secured to the ground — like most A-frame signs — would be prohibited in the public right-of-way, but will still be allowed on private property.
The process of updating the signs regulations in the Arlington County Zoning Ordinance has been ongoing since December 2010. County staff members gathered input on the three revised drafts at a number of public hearings and workshops before presenting the Board with the final proposal last night.
Despite nearly six hours of back-and-forth debate on individual aspects of the ordinance, the Board eventually unanimously voted to approve it.
“I think it is not perfect, and I think it is like anything, going to change. But I’ve been unhappy with the sign ordinance in this county since I first got involved with the Board,” said Zimmerman. “I do think the bulk of this is a real step forward for the county.”
Now that A-frame signs and branded sidewalk cafe umbrellas have been approved for use in Arlington, the County Board is moving on to other, slightly less pressing signage issues as it works to revamp the county’s sign ordinance.
Last week Board members held a work session with County Manager Barbara Donnellan to give input on revisions they’d like to see to the proposal before the final version is inked. The latest draft was devised based on staff input and information gathered at public sessions last year.
One proposed change that all the Board members indicated support for was reducing the number of signs issues that require the Board’s attention. The hope is that by making the ordinance more clear and specific, fewer cases will need special approval.
The county also hopes to include clear standards for illuminated signs. Before that topic can be adequately addressed, Donnellan said a lighting consultant must be hired. Suggestions for illuminated sign restrictions include requiring businesses to turn off lit signs between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. Currently, there aren’t guidelines for lit signs in the ordinance because such signs weren’t widespread the last time the Board made revisions. Of particular concern are some of the signs on high rises in Rosslyn, such as on the Northrop Grumman building.
“It starts to look like a commercial district with major marketing when you come across the bridge,” said Board Member Jay Fisette. “I really don’t want to see that proliferate.”
Another topic garnering attention is the issue of allowing commercial signs on the so-called public right of way, such as medians. Right now, only political signs and real estate signs can be put up in these areas. The board splintered on this issue, suggesting solutions ranging from eliminating commercial signs on medians altogether, to imposing fees or permits for such a practice.
The Board voiced approval for listing specific times for when a sign can be put out and must be brought in. Along with that came the idea to revise how far away a sign may be placed from its advertised event. The proposal currently suggests half a mile, but the Board members prefer a quarter mile.
“We are the smallest county in the nation, only 26 square miles,” said Board Member Walter Tejada. “Half a mile is a lot of space.”
Donnellan and staff members will incorporate the Board’s suggestions into a new draft of the ordinance, and additional public meetings will be scheduled in the spring to discuss the nearly finished proposal. The goal for submitting a final revised ordinance and getting it approved is July.
“We certainly have an awful lot of work ahead of us,” Donnellan said.
A group called The Arlington Egg Project is holding its monthly meeting tonight at the Fairlington Community Center (3308 S. Stafford St.) at 7:00 p.m. The group’s goal is to get the county to change its ordinances so residents may keep a limited number of hens in their backyards.
Next month, the group is holding an “I Love Hens” evening of film and entertainment at the Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse (2903 Columbia Pike). The event will feature family friendly stand up comedy, a showing of the documentary “Mad City Chickens: The Return of the Urban Backyard Chicken!” and a conversation about urban agriculture with County Board Member Jay Fisette. Tickets for the February 16 event are $5.
The Arlington Egg Project cites numerous reasons for wanting backyard chickens, including reducing household food costs and increasing family nutrition. As part of its urban agriculture initiative, the County Board decided to create a task force this year that will look into a number of issues, including backyard hen raising.
Massage practitioners have been required to obtain county permits to perform massages and to operate a massage parlor in Arlington since the mid-1970s. At that time, massage parlors were often viewed as fronts for prostitution businesses.
That licensing process is now “superfluous,” according to county staff, because the Virginia Board of Nursing has been doing its own licensing for massage therapists since 1997. Plus, officials say, prostitution isn’t nearly as endemic as it once was in the massage industry.
“The whole field of massage has evolved and changed incredibly in the past couple of decades, such that there are a lot of very legitimate medical practitioners out there using massage for all kinds of health reasons,” Deputy County Manager Marsha Allgeier told ARLnow.com in September.
The Board agreed with county staff’s recommendation to do away with the massage licensing ordinance.
“This code is outdated, degrading and redundant,” Board member Jay Fisette said, adding that eliminating the ordinance would be an example of the Board following its New Years promise to break down some of “the barriers to small business.”
Before the Board’s vote last night, regulations required massage therapists to submit a form, a $50 fee, a massage school diploma or certificate, two passport size photos, a Virginia massage therapist certificate and an FBI record check including fingerprints. Now, message practitioners will only need a state license.
Arlington County Police will still investigate any accusation of prostitution activity related to a message business, county staff said.
The County Board is expected to vote in October on a request to advertise an ordinance change that would no longer require massage therapists to obtain a permit from the county’s health department. Instead, local massage therapists will only have to be certified by the state.
Arlington County’s massage regulation started decades ago, in response to a proliferation of prostitution operations masquerading as massage parlors. County officials say those days are largely past, and its time to look at massage therapists in a new light.
“The whole field of massage has evolved and changed incredibly in the past couple of decades, such that there are a lot of very legitimate medical practitioners out there using massage for all kinds of health reasons,” Deputy County Manager Marsha Allgeier told ARLnow.com. “In a way, it’s kind of an archaic law that we’re getting rid of… the old way of looking at massage therapists really does have to change.”
Allgeier said that the Arlington County Police department, not the health department, will be responsible for making sure that massage businesses — like the recently-opened Arlington Physical Center on Columbia Pike — are on the up and up.
“If there are illegal activities going on — that is, prostitution — that it needs to be treated as a police matter,” Allgeier said. “That’s the way to deal with the illegal activity that’s going on, not by requiring all massage professionals to go through an unnecessary… bureaucratic licensure process.”
Current regulations require massage practitioners to apply for a county Massage Therapist Permit by submitting a form, a $50 fee, a massage school diploma or certificate, two passport size photos, a Virginia massage therapist certificate and an FBI record check including fingerprints.
Somber Anniversary at the Pentagon — A crowd of 1,600 people — including survivors and loved ones of victims — gathered at the Pentagon yesterday to mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11 attacks. Vice President Joe Biden, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Adm. Mike Mullen were among the speakers. President Obama arrived later in the afternoon and laid a wreath at the Pentagon Memorial. [Washington Post, New York Times]
‘Walmart’ Ordinance May Be Delayed — The County Board was supposed to vote this month on a new ordinance designed to give the board final approval on all ‘big-box’ development in Arlington, but county staff wants another month to write the ordinance. [Sun Gazette]
APS Creates Sustainability Committee — Arlington Public Schools have created a “Superintendent’s Advisory Committee on Sustainability” in order to be “active stewards in protecting the environment.” The committee will examine sustainability policies and practices as well as energy and environmental curriculum in the schools. [Arlington Public Schools]
Businesses Encouraged By Action on Sign Ordinance — Business owners are hopeful that the new, proposed changes to the sign ordinance will dramatically “streamline” the time-consuming, costly process for getting signs approved in Arlington. [Washington Examiner]
DJO Student’s Dry-Cleaning Research Makes Headlines — It’s not everyday that a high school sophomore’s science project makes it into an peer-reviewed academic research journal, but that’s exactly what happened to Bishop O’Connell High School student Alexa Dantzler. The 15-year-old’s research on chemicals that remain on clothing after dry-cleaning, conducted with the help of the Georgetown University chemistry department, was formally published last week. [Washington Post]
Gay Service Members Honored — Two prominent ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal advocates celebrated their retirement from the military during a ceremony at the Air Force Memorial on Sunday. [The Advocate]
Flags Flying in Rosslyn for 9/11 — Buildings in Rosslyn are flying the American flag this week in honor of the victims of 9/11. [Rosslyn Blog]
Arlington Fire Chief Remembers 9/11 Response — Arlington County Fire Chief James Schwartz was recently interviewed about the department’s role as the “primary response agency” to the Pentagon on 9/11. “There isn’t a lot of time to dwell on the enormity… you’ve got to go to work right away,” he said.” [Firehouse.com]
Flickr pool photo by BrianMKA
Zimmerman said that he expects to see an initial draft of a rewritten sign ordinance next month, with final Board approval by the end of the year.
Addressing the substance of the sign ordinance, Zimmerman said he wants an ordinance that “at a minimum, ends the prohibition on A-frame signs [and] relaxes restrictions on the umbrellas used for sidewalk seating.”
Allowing A-frame — or “sandwich board” –signs would be a victory for business owners in Arlington, who have bemoaned Arlington’s strict enforcement of its prohibitive sign ordinance. The ban on sandwich board signs in makes it particularly difficult to promote restaurants specials and store sales to passersby.
Unadorned sidewalk cafe umbrellas are currently allowed under county code, but allowing branded umbrellas would benefit restaurant owners who want to make their eateries more visible during the warm weather months.
In addition to sign ordinance changes, Zimmerman said he hopes the Small Business Initiative will find a way to improve coordination among the various county government units that handle business matters.
“We heard, again and again, a real frustration with the lack of centrality and consistency of information,” Zimmerman said.