Revised Sign Regulations On the Way

by ARLnow.com April 26, 2011 at 4:00 pm 2,518 22 Comments

New sign regulations may be ready for adoption by the fall, Arlington County Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman said at this afternoon’s board meeting.

Zimmerman said that the board and county staff have been listening to feedback from business owners, many of whom bemoan the county’s sign ordinance as too restrictive. The county is still in the process of collecting comments on its web site and some additional sign focus groups are in the works, Zimmerman said.

County staff will work with a consultant to review the feedback and to review “best practices from around the country on sign regulation.” A draft copy of some of the regulation changes should be ready for review by the board and community groups in July. If all goes well, Zimmerman hopes to have the new sign ordinance ready for adoption “in the fall.”

The goal, Zimmerman said, is to “make business easier to do in Arlington and make the process better for everyone.”

  • YTK

    Business people are the heart and soul of a substantial portion of Arlington’s revenue — look at Clarendon, for instance, or other ‘trendy” parts of Arlington with its varied shops, some of which have sidewalk seating – — WHY make it hard for them to do business? Well-done and interseting signs are a colorful way of pointing attention to their business, and attracting customers (REVENUE!!!).

  • Lacey Forest

    From reading about the Irish pub in Shirlington’s experience, all signs are going to be summarily denied until the new rules are in place.

    • FedUp

      Easy solution: get rid of staff with no customer service skills. First to go: the zoning administrator.

      • LPS4DL

        Too snotty…

    • Nova Hokie

      I read about that also- and today I had dinner out in Crystal City at Buffalo Wild Wings- wouldn’t you know that each of the umbrellas in their patio seating area had big logos on them. I love B-Dubs, but wonder why it’s ok for there and not Shirlington.

  • TGEoA

    Best practices?

    What about common sense?

  • Ummm

    Someone is always going to do business in Arlington because of its location and population. Why put up with the crybaby owners who don’t do due diligence and complain about it after-the-fact? For ever complaint you hear, there are dozens of others who do what they need to do without having to be coddled like children.

  • Mickey

    6 more months to get a sign regulation? Fire EVERY one of those in that staff, hire a young kid over age 12 and give him a day to write it. Two days later, you have a regulation. The level of incompetence in the county government is eye watering and sets a new low for government……your tax money at work!

    • Thes

      Here’s a challenge for you, Mickey: write up a sign ordinance yourself. Take as long as you’d like to do a good job. Then post it in the forums here and we’ll see how good a job you did, compared to these staff that are taking six months. The criteria are for it to be constitutional, effective, enforceable, and that consistent application results in no complaints.

      • Josh S

        I second your challenge to Mickey. If it’s so freaking easy, let’s see what you come up with. It’s incredibly easy to post snide invectives in an internet forum. Doing actual work takes time. But still, I’m sure we’d love to see your ordinance. In all seriousness, if it’s good, I’d applaud the “citizen bureaucrat” spirit of it.

        • dynaroo

          Mickey’s little ordinance must then be approved by all the stakeholders, like, you know, the businesses. The main reason it takes 6 months to write the new ordinance is that stakeholders get input on it. Mickey will have no idea whether businesses and residents actually like his ordinance or if it contains all kinds of idiotic mistakes they could have warned him about. But hey, who needs all that? He’s some guy on the Internet who knows it all.

      • madisonmanor

        Not to get Mickey out of doing his homework, but a few clicks brought up the Fairfax zoning ordinance – specifically for signage (both building and freestanding) – see the link below. In particular, it shouldn’t take 6 months to modify sections 12-207 and 12-208 (mostly to reduce the maximum signage area), since these already work for the county next door – oh, wait – they sometimes elect Republicans. Never mind.


        • dynaroo

          It takes 6 months whether it is a change to one small section or alot more. It takes that long to hear from stakeholders. If we just did everything the way Fairfax does, we’d be Fairfax, and we do NOT want to be Fairfax.

    • dynaroo

      Seriously, Mickey, the world is full of armchair bureaucrats who stand around ranting about how it would be really easy to write good rules. You sound like Donald Trump – you know nothing and you think you know everything.

      Get to work.

  • Arlington Solutions

    Will this revision in the sign policy come with an apology to all the local business people that were mistreated by zoning enforcement and made to justify their existence to the County Board and plead with our local elected officials to hire new workers, invest in our community, and provide a needed/wanted service or product?
    If Chris Zimmerman thinks that the status quo is unacceptable does that mean that Barbara Favola and Jay Fisette’s leadership was, by definition, lacking?
    Now that the chairman of the Board has acknowledged his and fellow board members have failed to lead on this issue do which officials can the public hold accountable in this election cycle?
    The previous two chairs of the board?

    • dynaroo

      So every time they change any law, no matter how small, they have to apologize for the previous state of affairs, and everyone who voted for the previous law must be booted out of office?

      It’s just a sign ordinance.

  • V Dizzle

    If you hang a sign that says, “Sorry, we’re closed. We couldn’t hang any signs up to let you know we’re here and went out of business. You probably aren’t seeing this either, so whatever. Stop loitering. Really, we’re closed. Oh, and we’re a sign making shop… Did that just blow your mind?”

    Is that regulated by the sign ordinance?

  • Arlwhenever

    The development pipeline is almost dry. Block after block is checkered with vacant retail frontage. It’s not just the signs.

    • dynaroo

      Um, no.


      “Despite continued economic weakness across the country, development and construction in Arlington continued at a relatively strong pace last year, a newly-released report reveals.”

    • PhilL

      This is a valid and bigger point. At the rate they are adding residential and office space, the retail component seems to be growing too much in some places. I thought there was some talk last year about easing up on the ground floor retail requirements for some new site plans because the spaces just were not filling up as fast as the planners hoped.

    • CW2

      Businesses refuse to move in until there is a more reasonable sign ordinance in place. That’s it!


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