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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Contact:
Kraig Chalem, Associate Planner, Resource Stewardship Dept. at chalemk@co.thurston.wa.us or (360) 754-3355 x2087

Public Hearing to Amend Codes Regulating 'Signs' in Unincorporated Thurston County
Public is invited to comment on proposal to amend sign code regulations

OLYMPIA - The Thurston County Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on Wednesday, December 7, at 7:00 p.m. to accept public testimony on proposed amendments to county codes regulating signs in rural Thurston county, and the Urban Growth Areas of Lacey, Tumwater, and Olympia.

What: Public Hearing on Proposed Amendments to the Thurston County Code Regulating 'Signs'
When: Wednesday, December 7, 2016 at 7:00 p.m., or soon thereafter
Where: Thurston County Courthouse, Building One, Room 152, 2000 Lakeridge Dr. SW, Olympia, 98502

The Thurston County Planning Commissioners are conducting a public hearing and taking comments on the proposal to amend the standards for signs in the unincorporated territories of Thurston County by permanently removing language that has been determined by the U.S. Supreme Court to violate First Amendment rights (Titles: 20.40, 21.75, 22.44, and 23.42).

For more detailed information about the proposed amendments to the Thurston County sign codes, the Planning Commission staff report, attachments, and other associated information can be found on the sign code amendment webpage under 'News and Links'. Or, visit www.ThurstonPlanning.org and select the 'Sign Code Amendment' link under 'Planning Links', Development Code Docket Home.

Background
Item A-2 on the "2016-17 OFFICIAL DOCKET OF PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT CODE AMENDMENTS" calls for amending all sign codes as a high priority based on the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision (Reed v. Town of Gilbert, AZ). An item was also included on the 2014-15 Preliminary Docket to address signs in the right-of-way due to a citizen request to ensure unauthorized signs be defined as litter. The citizen request was not included on the 2014-15 Official Docket, but remained on the Preliminary Docket to be considered for the next cycle.

On June 18, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down a decision in the case of Reed v. Town of Gilbert, AZ. In essence, the decision deemed sign codes that regulate content which is not narrowly tailored to compel state, or local government interest as hindering freedom of speech, and do not survive strict judicial scrutiny.

Please note that the parameters of this amendment are strictly to address the issues of content and signs in the right-of-way as described in the 2016-2017 "Official Docket" as set by the Thurston Board of County Commissioners. Physical sign standards (entitlements) applicable in the rural county and in the Urban Growth Areas (UGAs) of the three cities are not at issue.

The public is invited to participate in an informed discussion, and testimony will be accepted at the December 7, hearing. Written comments may be submitted in lieu of testimony at the hearing. Written comments can also be emailed to Kraig Chalem, Associate Planner, at chalemk@co.thurston.wa.us, or hand delivered or mailed to:

Thurston County Resource Stewardship Department
Land Use and Permitting, ATTN: Kraig Chalem
2000 Lakeridge Drive SW
Olympia, WA 98502

The deadline for written comments is 4 p.m. on Wednesday, December 7, 2016. At the end of the December 7 public hearing, Planning Commissioners may choose to recommend that the Board of County Commissioners adopt the amendments as proposed, recommend adoption with suggested amendments, or they may request that staff make changes to the proposal and schedule another meeting/public hearing.

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County Commissioners:

Carolina Mejia
District 1

Gary Edwards
District 2

Tye Menser
District 3