Seattle City Council president Richard Conlin has withdrawn a controversial proposal to allow illuminated signs up to 648 square feet atop downtown skyscrapers. The bill was written for one business, Russell Investments, which recently moved into the mostly vacant former WaMu Center—Conlin's bill would have only allowed white signs, the color of Russell's logo.
"It looked like over-the-top favoritism," says Council Member Nick Licata, who opposed the bill. "Why, all of a sudden, are we doing this for one company?" Licata whipped out a resolution this past Tuesday that would have deferred the bill until the city's Department of Planning and Development studied the issue and reported back to the council in May.
Following an uproar of neighborhood activists and outcry from UW professors, Licata thinks most council members have lost their appetite for the bill altogether. But Conlin is likely to bring the bill back out of a sense of obligation to Russell Investments. If he does, Licata speculates that it will be "toward the end of 2011, after the campaign season is over" for five seats on the council.
"It really did hit a sort of sensitive spot for a lot of Seattleites. We're not glitzy," Licata says. He says comparisons of our skyline to cities like Berlin and London were "hysterical."
"They have huge billboards covering up historic buildings," he says. "I wouldn't point to them as where we want to go."