Sign Wavers Not Welcome in Visalia

March 13, 2009 8:43:51 PM PDT
People holding signs out on busy roads to advertise their business are being shot down by city officials in the South Valley. Some people say they're losing business because of a Visalia sign ordinance.Daryl Hynan has plenty of ways to get drivers' attention. For Hynan, sign spinning is an art form and the corner of Hillman and Prosperity in Tulare is his canvas. But Hynun wishes he could flash his talent in Visalia.

Daryl Hynan says "I really wanted to do a lot of work in Visalia because it's a little bigger than Tulare."

Hynum's business, Athletic Advertising, was cited by Visalia code enforcement a few months ago when he tried sign spinning on Mooney Boulevard. In 2006, city officials passed an ordinance that bans people from holding signs for their business out on the street. Council members say the ordinance is not just for drivers' safety. Greg Collins, City Councilmember, says "It ensures from a safety perspective and an aesthetic perspective that the community doesn't become unsightly."

But Hynan says the ordinance is inhibiting his freedom of expression and is bad for business. Hynan says "We really feel like some of the businesses out here are going out of business and we really feel they have a right to market their own brand."

Liberty Tax Service, which has also been cited several times in Visalia, agrees. Right now, they have a sign spinner in Tulare but in Visalia their trademark State of Liberty costume is all they use. The signs can get a lot of attention from drivers. Liberty Tax Service says 80% of their customers are people who see these signs on the street.

Relinda Narciso, General Manager of Liberty Tax Service stores in Tulare and Visalia, says "As long as the signs are not obstructing a view and I don't feel that the wavers are getting in the roadway, I don't feel it's a bother."

Hynan and Liberty Tax Service are going to bring their concerns to the Visalia City Council. Council members say there is a chance the ordinance could be amended but it's a long process to make that change.

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