New rules may slice Oak Harbor's dancing pizza people
By JESSIE STENSLAND
Whidbey News Times Assistant editor
June 28, 2012 · Updated 12:32 PM
Oak Harbor’s dancing pizza people may have to hang up their dancing shoes if a proposed sign ordinance is adopted.
The Oak Harbor Planning Commission has been working on a rewrite of the city’s sign code since the council adopted an interim ordinance last year to address concerns about the legality of rules related to campaign signs.
The planning commission voted at their last meeting to forward the sign code draft recommendations to the City Council. It will first go to a committee before coming to the full council.
The draft lists four types of signs that can be placed in the public right-of-way, but missing from the list are signs held by individuals --- whether dancing pizzas or folks dressed like the Statue of Liberty.
Senior Planner Ethan Spoo said the planning commission discussed the sign wavers, who they dubbed the “dancing pizza people.” Under the current draft, they would be prohibited from dancing with signs on sidewalks.
“It’s a traffic safety issue,” Spoo said, explaining that the gyrating pizza shop employees could distract drivers. He said he’s unaware of any collisions resulting from drivers distracted by pizza dancers.
The dancing pizza people would, however, be allowed to shake their pepperonis on private property, such as a parking lot.
Development Services Director Steve Powers pointed out that the proposed code is just a draft and could change as it goes through the public process. The public will have plenty of chances to speak on the issue.
Like many communities in the state, the city of Oak Harbor experienced a proliferation of sign-waving dancers since the economy tanked. Most commonly in Oak Harbor, dancing pizza people are out advertising Little Caesar’s on the sidewalk in front of the Safeway parking lot. During tax season it’s not uncommon to see costumed folks dressed as the Statue of Liberty advertising for Liberty Tax in the same area.
The City Council adopted an interim ordinance last year that strikes a section of city code which placed time limits on the posting of campaign signs. The measure came out after a city code enforcement officer told Scott Dudley, then a mayoral candidate and councilman, that his campaign signs would have to come down. Under the code, they could not be posted more than 60 days before an election.
The city’s legal department researched the issue and recommended that the time limit be removed because of constitutional concerns. The planning commission members decided to take a larger look at the sign code and recommended a revision.
Contact Whidbey News Times Assistant editor Jessie Stensland at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360.675.6611 ext. 5056.