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Thread: Palm trees at Hooters: sign or art?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Palm trees at Hooters: sign or art?

    Headline: Hooters may find out if its trees are signs

    Article from Louisville Courier-Journal:
    http://www.courier-journal.com/apps/...607110351/1027

    Highlight:
    Do the metal palm trees in front of the Hooters restaurant on Preston Highway function as a business sign? Or are they art? That's the issue the Louisville Metro Planning Commission could tackle next week when it's scheduled to decide whether to fine Hooters for having an illegal sign. Code enforcement officer Curtis Davis cited Hooters in February, alleging that the trees, which are 25 to 30 feet tall, are signs.

    If the commission finds Hooters guilty, it could fine the restaurant up to $4,000 for each day of violation.
    What do you think are the palm trees art or sign ?
    Reading the article it seems that there is a code language and interpretation problem.
    Last edited by JNA; 11 Jul 2006 at 11:01 PM.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian H's avatar
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    They are art. A sign needs words or a mark. (I read the article and the code guy, Davis, is being a turd. Though, that language does need to be re-vamped.) Anyway, I dont recall palm trees being the Hooters mark... I believe that would be the... Owl. Thus, that be art.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Delightfully tacky.......but they're not signs.

    The city attorney was not much help. But is that a surprise?
    Annoyingly insensitive

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Reductionist's avatar
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    Yet another example of nitpicking about the color of the lipstick on the hog.

    Meanwhile Rome burns.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian H's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Reductionist
    Yet another example of nitpicking about the color of the lipstick on the hog.

    Meanwhile Rome burns.

    LOL. That is a great way to put it. (as sad as it is true )

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    I don't know that I'd call them "art"; but definitely not signs. Would the code guy have done the same thing if they'd strung some twinkle lights in real trees or around a patio? Don't think so.

  7. #7
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Definitely not a sign. Sounds to me like the code compliance officer went on a power trip. I don't see any kind of logo on trees and palm trees are not an identity trait for the restaurant.

    I have to wonder if this would earn the ire of the officer if they were on something besides a Hooters...

    Quote Originally posted by Reductionist
    Yet another example of nitpicking about the color of the lipstick on the hog.

    Meanwhile Rome burns.
    One of the best comments I've read in quite some time. Way to sum it up concisely.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  8. #8
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    YOU ARE ALL OUT OF IT.

    Are palm trees native and grow in Louisville?
    I doubt it.
    Hooters did the same thing in this town.
    While it may not have an electrical box, or a vinyl panel with words on it, it is still advertising something... and that counts as a SIGN.
    Take 'em down, Chief.
    We interpreted ours as such, but lost due to "interference".

    Quote Originally posted by Article/Louisville Code
    During a Planning Commission hearing last month, Davis said he based the citation on the Land Development Code. In one place, the code defines "signs" as structures, fixtures and other measures that draw attention to an establishment.
    Exactly. This is where the line is drawn. If we call these things "art" than who knows what kinds of "art" (that's really an attention getting pseudo-advertisement) other businesses will come up with. Then we'll have signs everywhere, which is a bad thing.
    Quote Originally posted by Article
    The second definition says a sign identifies or provides information about an establishment. The palm trees do not provide information, Tigue said.
    Sure it does. What better association with scantily-clad tan women than palm trees?

    I cannot believe I am the only one thinking this way so far...(here at least)

    Quote Originally posted by Article
    Susan Hamilton, also a commission member, disagreed, arguing that the trees amount to signs.
    "They are meant to advertise the fact that there's a Hooters there," Hamilton said.
    ^^We have a PC opening if you are interested...
    Last edited by zman; 12 Jul 2006 at 9:54 AM.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Habanero's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Zoning Goddess
    I don't know that I'd call them "art"; but definitely not signs. Would the code guy have done the same thing if they'd strung some twinkle lights in real trees or around a patio? Don't think so.
    What she said.

    The code needs to be revamped however, because there is too much confusion. I for one would not think palm trees= wings and beer, but that's just me. Perhaps if they had coconuts on the trees?
    When Jesus said "love your enemies", he probably didn't mean kill them.

  10. #10
          abrowne's avatar
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    Since when have palm trees been a symbol for Hooters? I'm not sure they're art, but I know they're not a sign. "Furniture" seems more apt.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Not A Sign??!

    See, this is why I will eventually rise to the top and rein as America's Top Planner.

    ZMan, passionate about something outside of the FAC for once...
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  12. #12
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    I guess this goes back to determining what is the intent of the ordinance and the intent of the trees. In some municipalities signs are defined as any text, graphic, or other representation with the intent to advertising a business.

    What if it was the stature of a giant chicken or owl? We had a similar case with a giant cow in front of a local Drought shop that the boss determined was a sign to advertise milk.

    I would call it a sign. If they want trees, plant some real ones.
    If you want different results in your life, you need to do different things than you have done in the past. Change is that simple.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian
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    I agree with Z-man that it is definetly meant as an "advertising device" even if it does not contain verbiage or symbols. That is if the Louisville ordinance provides enough discretion to make the case for that interpretation.

    Why is it that all of the planners from the Sunshine state are saying it is not a sign? Coincidence...or not.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Wannaplan?'s avatar
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    I recently reviewed a Hooters site plan. I saw the "trees" by the front door. I too wondered if they should be a sign or not. But I considered the whole site, especially thinking of the "dockside" architectural theme that was applied and decided the "trees" were part of that theme. I did not waste my time on something that was clearly a whimsical identifier that added character to the site. And I'm not even from the sunshine state.

    Of course, if I wanted to get my bible-belt on, and regale the sinning developers with my conviction that Hooters is degrading to women and not compatible with the neighborhood character in my community, I would throw the book at them at regulate the heck out of those "trees" and call them a sign.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Reductionist's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by zmanPLAN
    YOU ARE ALL OUT OF IT.

    Are palm trees native and grow in Louisville?
    I doubt it.
    Hooters did the same thing in this town.
    While it may not have an electrical box, or a vinyl panel with words on it, it is still advertising something... and that counts as a SIGN.
    Take 'em down, Chief.
    We interpreted ours as such, but lost due to "interference".


    Exactly. This is where the line is drawn. If we call these things "art" than who knows what kinds of "art" (that's really an attention getting pseudo-advertisement) other businesses will come up with. Then we'll have signs everywhere, which is a bad thing.
    To me the use of the term “sign” implies that that the object is a trademark of the business in question, and thus is used for advertising purposes. By this I mean that such an object must be iconic and clearly recognized as part of their corporate identity. Examples would be McDonalds’ golden arches, the Chick-fil-A Cow or in this particular case the Hooters Owl, as someone else mentioned.

    Thus while tackiness in general would appear to be a trademark of the Hooters restaurant chain, the lighted palm trees themselves aren’t. Indeed the downtown Twistee Treat here, a local ice cream chain, uses the exact same lit palm tree as an outside decorative element, however it’s a bit more appropriate here because I’m in Florida and well… it’s Florida.

    If they really wanted to address the vulgarity of Hooters they would have some sort of design ordinance in place that deals with banality of corporate chain architecture. Of course for such an ordinance to be effective requires an enlightened municipal government of planning department that sees the value in emphasizing local vernacular styles and good urban design.

    But hey it’s just so much easier to just fine someone for violating some ill defined sign ordinance, pat yourself on the back and pretend that your action led to some sort of meaningful public good. Hence Rome continues to burn.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    Not a sign. We had a similar case here in Wisocnsin with cow statues. Court ruled no. However they are accessory structures that can require site plan approval and permits if the code is well written.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    OT: Muddying the waters:

    A common practice is to place a ceramic or plastic owl on a roof to deter pigeons. Since an owl is part of the corporate symbol for Hooters, would placing a fake owl on the roof of a Hooters be a sign or a pigeon-deterring device?
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

  18. #18
    Cyburbian
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    IMO this is a sign! No doubt, look at the definition of sign in Webster's -

    5 a : a display (as a lettered board or a configuration of neon tubing) used to identify or advertise a place of business or a product b : a posted command, warning, or direction c : SIGNBOARD

    I went through almost the exact same situation with a strobe light on a light house that stood about 6' tall. It didn't have lettering, but is obviously a sign to attract attention to the place of business. The issue will be how a sign is defined in the code, but in my opinion it is a form of signage. If it does not meet the definition of the code, then for all enforcement purposes it is a moot point!

    There is a Chinese Market in the Asian part of Oklahoma City I have visited that is thick with these palm trees. They put them in a few years ago, at that point I had never seen them. Now they seem to be popping up all over the place. I see them at night clubs.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Maybe I'll get a couple and place them in my front yard. The appear low maintenance. But first I'll start a poll thread and ya'll can help me pick the color.

    Six colors in five sizes:

    http://www.buypalmtrees.com/coconut-palms-main.php

    Somewhat pricey, though.
    Annoyingly insensitive

  20. #20
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by RichmondJake
    Maybe I'll get a couple and place them in my front yard. The appear low maintenance. But first I'll start a poll thread and ya'll can help me pick the color.

    Six colors in five sizes:

    http://www.buypalmtrees.com/coconut-palms-main.php

    Somewhat pricey, though.
    I strongly recommend everybody take a look at the photos on that site... some of them are absolutely hillarious! My favorite is the "winter storefront" with this stupid lit palm tree with about 12" of snow on the ground around it.

    I would address this under landscaping/site design rather than sign regulation. Actually, don't most landscaping regs ban artificial landscaping? This is a fake palm tree, so I think you could make that case...
    Last edited by Suburb Repairman; 12 Jul 2006 at 3:03 PM.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  21. #21
    Cyburbian H's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Suburb Repairman
    I strongly recommend everybody take a look at the photos on that site... some of them are absolutely hillarious! My favorite is the "winter storfront" with this stupid lit palm tree with about 12" of snow on the ground around it.
    I love the way the palms have been "photoshopped" onto South Beach. LOL.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    Many codes define "sign" as any attention attracting device. This is usually tempered with code language or policies that exclude flags (US only...but that is another topic) and art.

    Such a serious issue. One should spend hours observing and discussing, preferably over a pitcher and some wings. One should conduct a lengthy interview with each of the employees so that one may be made fully abreast of the situation.

  23. #23
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    See these link: http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showt...gn+art+big+boy

    http://www.cyburbia.org/forums/showthread.php?t=12569

    About a similar situations, one being a Big Boy statute out front of the restaurant. In my opinion, the palm trees are not sigs.

  24. #24
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by zmanPLAN
    Link This!!
    Moderator note:


    Post deleted. Not appropriate in the "on-topic" forums. Leave that stuff to the Friday Afternoon Club please.
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

  25. #25
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    Not art, but the defense attorney's right.

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