Councilmember Bagshaw left office on December 31, 2019. This website is for archival purposes only and is no longer updated.

What’s your sign, Magnuson?



Thursday’s Parks & Seattle Center Committee agenda features a discussion and public hearing on the sign code for the Sand Point Overlay District, located within Magnuson Park.  The meeting is scheduled for 9:30am on Thursday, January 20th, in Council Chambers at City Hall.

The Sand Point Overlay District was created in 1997 when the U.S. government officially transferred former Naval Air Station Sand Point to the City of Seattle. At that time, Council adopted a list of permitted uses and development standards for the area in light of its new purpose as part of a regional recreation destination. Sadly for local pilots (but not so sad for neighbors who prefer quiet), Sand Point’s days as an active runway ended forever.

In 2008, the City revised that list of permitted uses within the district to include contracts with commercial partners who could provide cultural, recreational, retail, and restaurant uses. As a result, organizations like The Mountaineers and Arena Sports have renovated military buildings and offered up services and benefits to the public.

While those changes occurred, sign code regulations for Sand Point have never been adopted, and as such, the area’s sign requirements were determined by zoning. Currently, lessees from Seattle Parks within the Overlay District are restricted to one sign of 15 square feet on each street frontage.

This is problematic for many, both lessees and park users. If you’re a first-time visitor through the main entrance of Magnuson, you know that way-finding can be challenging. It’s a big place at 350 acres in all. Sandwich-board signs litter the drive, and unless you’ve got the ability to scan like Schwarzenegger in “Terminator,” you may end up making a second or even third pass to find your destination.

Sign code discussion for the district has been in progress for over six years. Most recently, we held a Parks & Seattle Center Committee at Magnuson Park in September of last year to share the plan with the neighbors and hear from them and both current and future tenants.  Thursday’s committee meeting will feature another briefing (memo available here, and powerpoint here) and the public hearing is designed to provide another opportunity to help Council shape this legislation.

A few key notes to consider as part of this proposed legislation for the Sand Point overlay District:

  • All signs will be consistent with a 1998 plan governing reuse of historic structures
  • Signs that flash, revolve, or feature a changing image or message board function are prohibited
  • Signs can be externally illuminated, non-illuminated, or have electric numbers  or figures
  • A business establishment can have one 16 square foot sign on the outside wall that is oriented to pedestrian traffic
  • A business establishment can have one 48 square foot sign that can be affixed to an outside wall, project from a wall, or affixed to a canopy, when it is oriented to a right-of-way
  • If a tenant space is longer than 300 linear feet measured along a right-of-way, additional signs or one larger sign up of to 100 square feet would be permitted

Given the partnership trend that we’re seeing between Seattle Parks and organizations like Arena Sports, we want these ventures to be successful, and part of that relies on the ability of people who are looking for them to find them. Your input at Thursday’s meeting is welcome, and if you can’t attend in person, please  call my office or email me. We’ll compile all comments for review.

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