The city of Durango’s rules on signs – commercial, political, religious or otherwise – will be updated this summer to be content neutral.
The change will bring the city into compliance with a Supreme Court ruling that found regulating signs based on content violates freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment.
For example, Durango will no longer have rules specific to political, real estate or construction signs. Instead, the city will likely have regulations that apply to yard signs and signs in vacant lots, said city consultant Martin Landers, owner of Plan Tools.
Residents gathered at the Durango Public Library on Wednesday for an open house to learn about the possible changes to the code, which could include a variety of updates, in addition to revisions to eliminate rules on content.
“We’re using this as an opportunity to check back in with the community,” said Colleen O’Brien, business development and redevelopment coordinator.
The city asked residents whether they support allowing mural signs, more electronic signs, sign twirlers and inflatable signs among a variety of other changes. The city currently does not allow murals to function as advertising and it prohibits inflatable signs, O’Brien said.
Whether the city should allow sandwich-board signs along Main Avenue garnered some attention from attendees. The signs are allowed on the sidewalk if business owners have a right-of-way permit for them, but many businesses don’t, O’Brien said.
Rod Barker, owner of the Strater Hotel, said the city shouldn’t prohibit signs that can draw potential customers into businesses.
“The current regulations prohibit them and people are doing them anyway,” he said.
Karyn Gabaldon, a downtown gallery owner, opposes sandwich-board signs.
“It just makes our town look junky,” she said. The signs along the sidewalk distract from the beautiful buildings, and businesses could put up more aesthetically pleasing temporary signs instead, she said.
To comment on the sign code updates, email firstname.lastname@example.org.