Plan to allow portable signs in downtown Steamboat sees movement |

Plan to allow portable signs in downtown Steamboat sees movement

Michael Schrantz

A meeting Tuesday night at the Chief Theater addressed a number of ways that downtown businesses could improve this summer. One idea was to allow businesses to display sandwich boards in an effort to invite more pedestrians to stop into their stores and restaurants.

— Quick on the heels of last week's meeting, downtown stakeholders gathered again Tuesday night and already were seeing answers to some of their concerns and questions.

A topic of interest during last Thursday's meeting was the city of Steamboat Springs' code that restricts the use of sandwich board signs in front of businesses.

On Tuesday, Steamboat Springs Planning Director Tyler Gibbs presented a temporary plan that would allow portable signs downtown during the summer. A more permanent solution would follow.

"We really need a complete set of guidelines for how the sidewalks are used," Gibbs said Tuesday.

The summary Gibbs passed out Tuesday is expected be on the City Council's agenda for June 18. It lists provisions for the use of portable signs during the summer with a sunset date of Sept. 30.

"Experience with the program over the summer will guide recommendations to continue, amend or end the program in the fall," the summary states.

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"It's really about equal representation in the marketplace," said Collin Kelley, owner of Carl's Tavern at Seventh and Yampa streets.

While some items placed by businesses on downtown sidewalks fall under other ordinances and can be allowed with revocable permits, portable signs are prohibited.

Any potential changes to the city's code would have to go through the ordinance process.

Some of the provisions proposed by Gibbs include: allowing one portable sign per street frontage; requiring a revocable permit for all signs in the public right-of-way; signs must be located adjacent to the building; 6 feet of clear passage must be maintained on the sidewalk; and signs must be removed when the business is closed.

Gibbs said signs that are used during the summer may or may not be permitted under a permanent plan in the future.

Another proposal was to standardize the signs used in downtown. Gibbs brought a prototype Tuesday of what such a sign might look like. The metal frame was pyramid shaped but terminated before a point and had wheels on one edge, allowing it to be easily moved when tipped. Gibbs said the prototype was fabricated by Artifact Furniture to use as a demonstration of what might be possible when departing from the typical conception of a sandwich board sign.

If there is sufficient interest in standardizing the portable signage downtown, the idea was floated that Mainstreet Steamboat Springs could either sell or lease the signs to businesses.

"We would like to encourage creativity," Gibbs said about leaving the signs open to customization within some set parameters.

Also during Tuesday's meeting, Anne Ricker, of Ricker Cunningham consulting firm, gave those in attendance an update on work toward tax-increment financing for the downtown district.

Ricker said she'd met earlier Tuesday with the Routt County Board of Commissioners, which has previously expressed objections to a setup similar to what was used to fund public improvements at the mountain base area.

The plan is still in the study phase, Ricker said.

To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206 or email