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Thread: sign codes

  1. #1

    sign codes

    Hi - has anyone recently contracted out a rewrite of their sign code? Can you give me an idea of how much it cost? Also, what part of the world are you located in? Thanks!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    Last year in Vancouver, WA, we signed a contract for a consultant to update our sign code for about $21,000. It was a *huge* underestimate. In the end it probably should have been about twice that much. Any time you mess with signs, it's a huge issue... it will probably be one of the bigger political codes you will have to deal with. What is the scope of the changes you are seeking?

    What I would recommend doing is this:

    **Whatever bid comes in, take a good hard look at the public consultation portion. With sign codes, budget for about 3 times more public consultation money than with other ordinances. Everyone has opinion about signs, and there is rarely any agreement.

    **Take the time to call the consultants' references... not only ask if they did a good job on the ordinance language itself, but also ask questions about whether they came in on budget, the quality of their facilitation and presentation skills, and whether the consultants were knowledgeable on any local or State legislation or court cases. Even if a bid comes in cheap, if they can't do the public consultation portions effectively, it isn't worth it.

    Just my 2 cents...

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    So you mean that you had a contract with a consultant, he came in over budget, and you paid him?

    Why?

  4. #4
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    Unfortunately, I was not administering the contract. The project was dumped on me, but the negotiation between the consultant and the City was via my supervisor (whom is no longer working there, for this and other reasons). But, through the public workshops, more and more research and options arose that ended up causing the contract to go beyond the original scope. Whoever originally hired the consultant did not do a good job at really looking at the scope of work and the number of hours to address the public consultation... so the consultant ended up getting more money. As far as I know, the project isn't even finished yet... sad, but true. This project was one of the file straws that pushed me to leaving the city... it was just a mess from day one.

    Guess what I'm working on right now? Yup... a sign code! Unfortunately, I don't have consultant money for this one though... it's all me!

  5. #5
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    The billboard industry and area sign companies will do it for free.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    Originally posted by mike gurnee
    The billboard industry and area sign companies will do it for free.
    Yeah, it doesn't take much time to write "Therefore, Sections XX.XXX through XX.XXX are repealed."

  7. #7
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    $21,000!!!!! Holy smokes!!! It is costing that much to rewrite our master plan. Is it normal for a rewrite to cost that much? I haven't been....er, lucky enough to have to do that yet (coming up next year), so I have no idea.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    Originally posted by SW MI Planner
    $21,000!!!!! Holy smokes!!! It is costing that much to rewrite our master plan. Is it normal for a rewrite to cost that much? I haven't been....er, lucky enough to have to do that yet (coming up next year), so I have no idea.
    I guess it depends on the town. If you have a "steering committee" or some other on-going public forum that is for the most part facilitated by the consultant the costs become astronomical. To keep costs down, urge your City to have a few open houses or some other type of public participation. On-going committees eat up $$ like you wouldn't believe.

    Last year we finished our master plan up here (called a Municipal Development Plan in Alberta)... the update cost the city about $150,000... mostly due to the steering committee participation. An open process is good, if you want a widely accepted master plan... but it comes at a heavy financial cost. The less interested the public is, the less it costs to complete these comprehensive plans.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    The cost of the consultant is directly related to the ability of the community to pay. Even then, it is not unusual for the consultant, once in the job, to try dipping into your wallet for a little more. I know of many small communities that have spent $20-25,000 for a comprehensive plan, where the county itself awarded a $400,000 contract for its plan. Where we might spend $10,000 to re-write the subdivision ordinance (pop. 14,000), I can see where Vancouver might budget $20-25,000 for a sign ordinance. For that, I would hope it would be complex, perhaps have different standards in different districts, and have some associated "citizen's guide."

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