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The city of Sedona is taking a more proactive approach to enforcing its sign code, cracking down on 19 businesses in its latest sweep.

The city’s code enforcers have noticed a slew of illegal banners and A-frame signs going up along State Routes 89A and 179.

Businesses are allowed wall signs or freestanding signs if they have the space available. A-frame signs are prohibited.

Although the city wants to help businesses during economic troubles, it also has to enforce its codes, Director of Community Development John O’Brien said.

a-frame-sign-enforcementCity staff hopes to work with the Sedona-Oak Creek Chamber of Commerce and the Main Street Program to find ways it can assist businesses, he said.

During State Route 179 construction, the city has slackened its enforcement to allow businesses to advertise with signs throughout the construction zone, Development Services Supervisor James Windham said.

But the city has sent a “heads up” e-mail to businesses along the construction route alerting them that it will begin sign enforcement once construction is complete by spring 2010.

As for the businesses in West Sedona that post signs boasting breakfast, an opening or services, the city’s latest sweep let them know that the signs had to come down.

According to O’Brien, if the businesses are caught with signs after the warning, they could receive a civil citation with a maximum fine of $250.

“Just because someone has a banner up doesn’t mean it’s illegal,” O’Brien said. “They could have gotten a banner permit.”

Businesses can apply for up to four banner permits each year. The permit allows the business to display a banner for 10 days for $25.

Yard sale signs are exempt from regular sign codes, but some rules do apply, O’Brien said. Signs for yard sales are allowed in city right-of-ways, but not Arizona Department of Transportation right-of-ways.

Yard sale signs are prohibited on street poles, stop signs and telephone poles. Each sale is allowed to post four signs, not exceeding 3 feet high. They are permitted to go up three days before the sale, and must come down when it’s over, Windham said.

Sign code enforcement has a lot to do with maintenance and education of business owners, the public and city staff, O’Brien said.

Starting in August, a city code enforcer will work one Saturday a month, patrolling for sign violations.

The city also drafted an education letter to send to every Sedona residence on dos and don’ts of sign rules. City staff will also meet with realtors to discuss “open house” and “for sale” signs popping up in the right-of-ways.

“The issue,” Windham said, “is that everyone wants a sign on the main highway, but the city doesn’t lend itself to that.”

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