Talon News - Good Local News

By J.R. Sykes


An Editorial


March 10, 2017

Are temporary signs a problem? Does the City of Aztec enforce the code fairly, as written? On Tuesday 3/7 over fifty temporary signs were counted in use in Aztec, excluding the NMDOT. The temporary signs that are used by NMDOT will go away with the workers, but the banners, window signs, balloons, flags, popups, sandwich boards, and other temporary signs littering the landscape may remain, but not for long. How do these temporary signs affect Aztec?

A business owner operating a steady business, recently bent our ear. Outspoken and clearly disgruntled, he felt that the city was unfair in applying the city sign codes. The owner indicated that the City of Aztec had recently issued a violation to them for use of a temporary sign (banner) beyond the permit period, while several businesses around town displayed multiple banners. This conversation about fairness was a familiar one.

Some of the operators who have spoken out are new, some are not, but in visiting with them, there is a common thread. It was some version of : “The city is preventing us from advertising..” and/or “Making it difficult to do business.” Some indicated that investing in permanent signage was “too costly,” and “ these signs are the only affordable advertising..” and “we were not aware of the city code.”

We asked Judy Castleberry, Director of the Enterprise Center at San Juan College, for her experience with temporary signs. Judy said “Banners and temporary signs are great for grand openings, or short term promotions, but if used longer, they make the business look temporary,” and “they do not bring customers into town because only people in town can see them. Business today must use multiple outlets to get the message out and bring customers into the area to shop.”

TALON looked into the Aztec city sign code by visiting with Steven Saavedra, Aztec Community Development Director, who indicated that the code provides for, and allows temporary signs with a simple permit. The code limits a temporary sign to 30 days.

The City sign code is part of a group of protections developed and adopted by and for citizens benefit, to preserve the beauty of town and to enhance growth. These protections help guide owners to invest in the community through permanent signage which improves business for the community and ensures the safety of the installation. It specifies what types of sign’s, for how long, in what location, and includes guidance for both permanent and temporary signage. The code has been reviewed and adjusted every two years or so to integrate changes to laws, and to changing priorities. Like other protections regarding littering, speeding, worker safety, etc., it exists to provide a common basis for operation.

At a recent Aztec City Commission workshop held 2/28/17, Aztec City Manager Joshua Ray said “City staff should enforce the code as written..,” this was echoed by Aztec Community Development Director Steven Saavedra. In a later meeting, Joshua indicated that “though there may be a need for additional enforcement personnel, it isn’t in the budget.”

In a later conversation with TALON, Bob Carman Aztec Code Enforcement Officer, indicated that the city has already begun the process of bringing the area up to code. Bob asked that businesses please contact the city directly about signage if there is any doubt.


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