Sandwich board signs like this one have been popping up across town, but the city hasn't received any applications for the permits needed to use the signs. Without the permits, businesses could be fined.

Photo by John F. Russell

Sandwich board signs like this one have been popping up across town, but the city hasn't received any applications for the permits needed to use the signs. Without the permits, businesses could be fined.

Many new sandwich board signs in Steamboat Springs out of compliance with city code


— The city of Steamboat Springs sees all of the new sandwich board signs that have popped up in front of businesses across town this month.

Now, the city's planning department hopes it starts to see the business owners who put out the signs apply for the sign permits they need to avoid a costly citation.

Code-enforcement officer Barb Wheeler said Tuesday that the city hasn't received any of the necessary applications for the many signs that have been deployed in the wake of the Steamboat Springs City Council's decision to temporarily allow the portable signs for the first time.

She said she recently counted about 12 to 15 new portable signs in the city, and many are out of compliance with city code.

The city moved to allow the signs after business owners said they greatly help attract customers into stores and restaurants.

One downtown merchant said the signs were so important to her business that the property owner instructed her to keep it out and offered to pay the fees associated with breaking the rule.

Wheeler said for liability reasons, there is a long list of rules to which the signs must adhere in order to be in compliance.

“The code says all signs require a permit,” Wheeler said.

She said all portable signs require at least a sign permit from the city, which carries a $50 one-time fee.

Anything in the public right of way or sidewalk also requires a revokable permit, which carries a one-time fee of $75 as well as a recording fee from the county.

The signs at Central Park Plaza are unique in that they are on private property and do not require the revokable permit.

The revokable permits release the city from any liability that could result from someone tripping over a sign and injuring themselves or having one blow into the highway and damage a vehicle or cause a crash.

To prevent the latter scenario, all signs must be placed no more than 6 inches from a building and tethered securely to the business.

“We're going to start enforcing (the rules) this week,” Wheeler said. “We wanted to get these rules out there before we get started.”

City rules state that any sign holders' signs deemed in noncompliance will be subject to a municipal court citation with a fine of as much as $999 per day.

Before tickets are issued, Wheeler said business owners with noncompliant signs should expect this week to receive a visit from a code-enforcement officer with a sign application.

Property owners who have questions about the sign code can call Wheeler at 970-871-8274, or read the rules here.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email


David Moore 3 years, 10 months ago

The boards are one thing. How about these restaurants that have outdoor seating almost out to the street? Went down last weekend for Art in the Park and the Farmers Market. Foot traffic literally came to a standstill in front of a couple of these places because their outdoor seating takes up so much real estate. If anything needs to be regulated, it's how far out into the sidewalk these things can go. One row worth is plenty, no need to seat 10 tables out on the sidewalk. Just my opinion.


John St Pierre 3 years, 10 months ago

why does city not charge rental on using OUR city property????? IE outdoor dining rooms on sidewalks????


rhys jones 3 years, 10 months ago

When I first heard of the signboard thing, I envisioned what they do in Aspen, where enterprising individuals enlist sponsors for signs they wear around the streets, talking it up with the tourists -- not stationary things, just taking up valuable real estate. My bad.

David -- Your first mistake was attempting to negotiate that zoo we call Lincoln Ave. The alleys would have provided a much more trouble-free, as well as a much quicker, walk.


bill schurman 3 years, 10 months ago

Regulations, regulations. Get the impression that there are way too many ?? Bet the Code Enforcement officer is chomping at the bit to get started with writing tickets. Common sense has escaped us.


rhys jones 3 years, 10 months ago

What about the statues and "art" which will stab you in the eye, or knock you in the head, should you be looking another way? That's still legal, and free. Best be on your toes, treading our showcase street.


Cresean Sterne 3 years, 10 months ago

$999...Are they crazy... Its hard enough to make a living here when affordable housing will cost you $400,000..We dont need any more regulations just common sense..


Tim Keenan 3 years, 10 months ago

No kidding, David. As a blind person, The Rio and Johny B's are particularly difficult to navigate.


David Moore 3 years, 10 months ago

I know Mr. Jones, I stated in a previous post that I would feign to the alleyways for transport through the downtown area. However, my girl likes to, as her father used to call it, go "shindow wopping", so we made the sacrifice and took the main streets of downtown Steamboat last Saturday. When alone, I shall resort to the off the beaten path, out of the way of the jam ups in front of certain establishments named by another poster, which are the worse for sure, and take the more sensible path. The other props, horses and other paraphernalia out on the sidewalk is just making it harder to navigate. Add in a board for every shop and we will have to compete with traffic out in the street as it will be the only place left to go. The sidewalks are quite crowded as it is right now, and last weekend was definitely a challenge getting around. This will be a work in progress for sure.


rhys jones 3 years, 10 months ago

David -- I guess if you're here on vacation, the crowds just add to the festive atmosphere. Only the residents (I hesitate to use the overworked term "locals") find them inconvenient.

It's all relative. After a month in Texas last summer, even the crowds here looked good.

Heck, sometimes I get a hankering to see some flesh color, so I dare the sidewalks... but if I'm trying to get somewhere fast, it's the alleys for me.

I guess I won't be seeing Signboard Guy strolling about. What was I thinking...?


Matt Helm 3 years, 10 months ago

It is hard to try and call this place Bike Town USA when it isn't even pedestrian friendly. Try walking around downtown with a stroller, and count how many times you almost get hit by traffic or how hard it is to get by more than 5 restaurants on the sidewalk! Just sayin...


rhys jones 3 years, 10 months ago

Bikers beware: Don't pedal past me on the sidewalk. You won't make it.


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