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Sandwich Board Signs, Sidewalk Cafe Umbrellas Making a Comeback?

by ARLnow.com June 22, 2011 at 12:57 pm 5,732 12 Comments

At the annual State of the County address yesterday, Arlington County Board Chairman Chris Zimmerman said action on parts of his Small Business Initiative is coming soon.

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.

  • samsonite

    Send the guy in the horse cart to talk to Zimmerman.

    • Stu Pendus

      Agreed. This is just the type of responsiveness to small business concerns that his type are looking for from government.

      • Tabby_TwoTone


  • blue tarp?

    Maybe that crazy lady from Wag more Dogs can bite him in the ankle?

    • Tabby_TwoTone


  • Apartment ads

    Wonder if there was any discussion about the full window decals advertising apartments on rental buildings like the one on the Clarendon Reserve.

    • Tabby_TwoTone

      I’d like to see MORE of those spinning signs like they have at the Halstead.

  • JamesE

    Branded umbrellas will only lead to increased crime and drug use.

  • CW

    I still see plenty of sandwich boards anyhow. Branded umbrellas, not so much, though Northside Social has had them.

  • This is great news. I wish the changes could be made sooner for Shirlington Village businesses.

  • JimPB

    One big (but easy) sign and step and umbrella lift for small businesses.

    Now the hard part: streamlining required dealing with the county (reducing the regulatory burden would help).

    How about continually seeking feedback from businesses (and citizens, too) with transparency (post to the web) for this important input?

  • Pingback: should cities embrace ‘sandwich board urbanism’?()


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