Not the time to back off sign ordinance |

Not the time to back off sign ordinance

Christian Waskiewicz

Planning for the future, developing and sticking to the plan are often easier said than done. But, despair not, the dialectic will return in our favor. “Semi burned-out doctors,” long-time residents moving away for greener pastures after 25 and 30 years in South Lake Tahoe- oh yes, we are all in it together. But the writing is on the wall. “Innovate or die” is one of the many euphemisms that guide me in steering my small business through the rough waters of an Alpine economy in transition.

I caution the city and encourage the frustrated small business owner to avoid compromising the sign ordinance. Take into account other Alpine communities with “less is more” professional sign ordinances, even those as close as our sister to the north, Tahoe City, and observe how successful they have been in creating and maintaining a quality image and experience which, by the way, includes few if any corporate chains. Banners, professionally and tastefully done, posted for a maximum three-month period would work, but sandwich boards and other hand-printed or painted signs should remain out of the question.

Our town has become saturated with everyday corporate America chains, who have been heartily welcomed by a City Council and “planning” division that seem to have no plan. As local businesses, most of us do not have near the financial resources a well-armed corporate chain possesses to survive and thrive during the eight mediocre months of the year in our tumultuous economy. But do we really need to go back on the sign ordinance because it “seems” unfair and will hurt our ability to attract and maintain business? “Stand for something, or you will fall for anything!” Let’s not appear desperate. Word of mouth is our best form of promotion. How about freshening our perspective and getting with the times, improving the quality of our businesses, our products and services, our appearance, inside and out, and embracing current trends, so that we can beat the chains at their own game with local Tahoe excellence.

Indeed, the strong will survive and the weak will perish. There are too many pizza ovens and coffeehouses in town. Too late now, except to realize the over-saturation and discourage more of the same type of businesses opening in locations that, had a person done their business plan, they would have penciled a big “NO” into the preliminary feasibility assessment. Why rely on the past, when our community’s demographics have changed and rendered former strategies and tactics static and lacking in contemporary vision, practice and results? Get to work on what really matters – moving forward into the future with a new and improved quality plan! Be creative and keep it fresh, making consistent, lasting and tasteful impressions and experiences the main objective for our residents and guests. It will be money well spent for the long-term.

– Christian Waskiewicz, a South Lake Tahoe resident, owns Alpen Sierra Coffee Company.

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