We met with three people from the Mayor's office this morning about our need to have our signboard down at the intersection. There was no resolution, nor could there be.
They told us that they're working on revisions to the codes but such work takes time to wend its way through the city's stuctures. It will not be a quick, easy or simple thing. It will most likely take months, if not years. They, or the Mayor, are powerless to put in place a moratorium on enforcement of the existing regulations while the codes are reconsidered. There is no mechanism to suspend enforcement on an existing code. In effect, the law is the law and it will be enforced. Only one signboard per business and it can only be placed outside of that business.
They also said that the code enforcement is done by the Department of Transportation, while the DOT says that they have to enforce the code until the City changes the law. We're just stuck in the middle, and while they're sorry about our loss of sales which might very well result in the closing of the shop, there's just nothing they can do for us in the immediate future.
We can always risk it and put our sign down there but it seems a big gamble to put the sandwich board down at the intersection. There is certainly no guarantee that the sign will bring tourists up from First Ave and we'd be risking nearly $600 in penalties if we do get our sign impounded. If that happens, we're even further in the hole: no sign, no tourists, lower sales and a hefty fine.
So we're screwed.
We'll likely lose a huge part of our sales during our busy season this Summer. If the city does alter it's codes and will one day allow us to use the sandwich board at the intersection of First and Cherry, those lost sales cannot be made back. Those tourists will never have found us, they will never have a chance to see us and the books, they'll never become repeat mail order customers and the city will never recoup the sales tax from those lost sales.
While economists tell us the Great Recession is over, you'd not know it by sales or by the number of visitors to the streets of Pioneer Square. It still feels tight, as if everyone is holding onto their money and waiting for the next crash. It could not be a worse time for all of this to take place. Our sandwich board is the cheapest and most effective way to direct people to us. For now it is lost to us and we just feel exhausted, bruised and defeated by it all.
Thanks to all who have spoken up on our behalf. We wish we had better news to report.