After receiving more than 770 e-mails from incensed real-estate agents, the Redmond City Council passed its second emergency ordinance in...

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After receiving more than 770 e-mails from incensed real-estate agents, the Redmond City Council passed its second emergency ordinance in a week regulating commercial signs.

Last week the council passed an emergency ordinance prohibiting businesses from displaying “animated signs,” which are rotated, waved or put in motion. Redmond businesses, including real-estate brokers, may display one portable sign, such as an A-board or a sandwich sign, in front of their establishments — provided the advertisements stay off sidewalks, center medians, roads or bikeways. The signs can only be displayed between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Those in the realty business questioned whether the new ordinance meant that free-standing signs displayed in front of homes for sale would need to be pulled out of the yard every evening, said David Crowell, director of governmental and public affairs for Seattle-King County Association of Realtors.

“That puts an image in your mind, people digging up their ‘for sale’ signs every night,” Crowell said.

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On Tuesday night, the council passed a second ordinance that will allow these free-standing or pole signs to stay put in yards until the homes are sold. The ordinance will allow one sign in front of every lot, or two signs on corner lots, said Deborah Farris, Redmond code-enforcement officer.

The city will begin warning businesses that are in violation of the new sign ordinances beginning Monday, Farris said.

“It wasn’t terribly clear in the initial ordinance,” Farris said. “We clarified it so those signs don’t have to come down every day.”

It’s a good first step, Crowell said. But real-estate agents also are concerned that the new regulations limit them to one directional sign to advertise open houses, Crowell said.

“Quite frankly, one sign may not get people to an open house, especially on hard-to-find streets,” Crowell said.

Ron Fowler, managing broker for John L. Scott in Redmond, said, “It’s going to make holding an open house a moot point, since you can’t direct the public.”

Dennis Ballen, owner of the Blazing Bagel shop, won a lawsuit last year in which Redmond’s previous ban on portable signs was found unconstitutional

That ban, which did not apply to signs used by real-estate agencies, was struck down in January 2004 by the U.S. District Court in Seattle, which ruled that prohibiting their use by some people, but not others, was unconstitutional.

City Attorney James Haney said he expects the new ordinances will pass constitutional muster because they apply to all types of businesses. The changes were needed, he said, to curb a proliferation of commercial portable signs since the court ruling in 2004.

The ordinances are intended to give the city a way to keep portable signs under control while it appeals the District Court ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.