Followup: Installation time for disputed Madison signboard

January 21, 2014 at 11:21 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | 17 Comments

As school resumed after the holiday weekend, something new was being installed at Madison Middle School – the illuminated signboard that had been the subject of a years-long fight. The Madison PTA raised money to get it, but needed a zoning exception because the school has homes on all sides, and zoning didn’t allow this type of sign. The neighbors who will be facing the sign challenged the city ruling allowing that exception, went downtown to argue their case, then ended the fight when the city Hearing Examiner upheld the ruling last September. Claudia Ludwig, one of the neighbors who led the challenge, says it’s a “sad day.” The Hearing Examiner did formalize conditions for the sign’s operation, in hopes that would address some of the neighbors’ concerns; among those conditions, it’s only supposed to be turned on 7 am-7 pm weekdays, 10 am-4 pm weekends/school holidays/breaks.

17 Comments

  1. I really don’t get why the school decided to be such crappy neighbors. They sure don’t inspire the surrounding neighbors to actually give a hoot about this site.

    Comment by Neighbor — 9:10 am January 22, 2014 #

  2. Yes because lord knows that entire neighborhoods have been brought to ruin by the installation of an informational sign that turns off at 7PM.

    Comment by Brian — 9:48 am January 22, 2014 #

  3. Neighbor, your observation is an angle I had not considered. Madison isn’t being good neighbors. How do they expect to be treated back?
    .
    I’m burned at the disrespect of the zoning by the city. When there is an obvious and clear appeal to uphold the zoning, the city should do so.
    .
    It spreads. Every time the city skirts zoning regs, it sets precedent for them to let it happen somewhere else.

    Comment by dsa — 9:49 am January 22, 2014 #

  4. It’s a “sign” get over it. You made the choice to live next to a school. Same thing for the idiots that move next to a grocery store or business and then complain about the noise from deliveries and machines. It is a business and you kind of have to expect it so don’t be suprised. You could move to a quiet location away from schools and bright lights.

    Comment by Sarah — 10:05 am January 22, 2014 #

  5. Good god, drive by and see how small and inconspicuous the sign really is; you almost have to search to find it. As far as the neighbors across the street, the sign is nearly completely blocked by trees. I don’t have kids, and I think kids are overly fawned over these days, but this just shouldn’t be an issue.

    Comment by G — 10:49 am January 22, 2014 #

  6. Sarah, if noise from deliveries or machines near a grocery store is louder than that allowed by city regulations, then people have every right to complain and the city should enforce the rules. Similarly, the sign is not allowed by zoning regulations. I don’t have any skin in the game (don’t live near Madison), but it seems wrong that the city gave this exception to zoning, and wrong that Madison is being a poor neighbor. It might be one thing if this were safety lighting or handicapped ramps, but it’s a sign, I think Madison can get by without it.

    Comment by s — 11:10 am January 22, 2014 #

  7. Walk down the sidewalk of that block. You can’t even see the sign because of the placement of trees and shrubs.

    Comment by Neighbor — 11:11 am January 22, 2014 #

  8. What’s wrong with the sign? Seems the school should have a lighted sign for evening and night events. The light probably isn’t any brighter than street lights, right? It seems more light would = safer for neighborhood — lights prevent crime, yes? Is it blinding light? I don’t get the neighbor complaint…..I’d like to be enlightened ;)

    Comment by bbuddy — 12:53 pm January 22, 2014 #

  9. All detailed in the daylong hearing, as well as other archived coverage linked in this story. (See “went downtown for hearing” link regarding specifics of their arguments.)

    Comment by WSB — 1:17 pm January 22, 2014 #

  10. Your backwards – the business has to comply with residential restrictions, noise, parking, all of it – they even have additional restrictions being a business close to residences.

    I lived behind Skippers, it reeked liked fish, would be stupid if I could complain right? I chose to live there right? Aaand, nope, 100% wrong. Skippers had already installed filters on the ventilation to address the complaints of neighboring residences.
    It matters that the city gave the finger to home owners, and instead caved to pressure from a school who wanted a sign – boosters I would guess pushed this through. Total guess. If the school wanted a sign, and they knew the zoning didn’t allow it, they should have talked to their neighbors instead of railroading a jerk move through. They messed up, their neighbors now don’t like or trust them, and at least their door to door wreath sales (or whatever) are going to take a hit in the immediate vicinity – I submit their *&%$ move wasn’t worth the blow-back – let’s not punish them, only because we’re just punishing kids. Maybe ask the principal to address the “Poor Neighbor” status they now enjoy, and how they plan to fix that.

    Comment by zark00 — 5:06 pm January 22, 2014 #

  11. I’ll say it again: First world problems…

    Comment by Yo — 6:46 pm January 22, 2014 #

  12. I am a Madison neighbor I say make it bright, I welcome the activity. I love to live near such a beautiful school, I like that my kids could walk to school, I like that they got to play soccer on the field when they were young and play basketball in the gym with Seattle community center program. I like that now that they are older they can go up and run the track, play catch etc. I wished more people used the school facilities it is like having more neighbors watching my streets. Thanks for the zoning ruling I am glad that sign is coming on.

    Comment by Made it Bright — 6:47 pm January 22, 2014 #

  13. Oh the humanity! Look at the size of that thing! Clearly it will be visible from space. Children in the neighborhood will most likely drop out of school because of the effect on their sleep. First world problem is right.

    Comment by Jason — 8:50 pm January 22, 2014 #

  14. My objection is to the ease with which politically connected “friends” could get bureaucrats “working for the people” to instead give them the finger. The rules only apply to the rest of us. That’s what makes america great.

    Comment by P O'd — 12:14 am January 23, 2014 #

  15. I think it’s less the brightness that’s an issue than the annoying flashing messages, combined with the uselessness of this sign. If the sign is so invisible, then what is the point of having it (and paying for it–is this really the most effective contribution to learning that could be had for the price?) If the sign is visible, then what are the guarantees to the neighborhood that the school will not use annoying, moving, flashing text? And how many of you have seen all the out-of-date messages on similar signs at other schools? It really appears to have been more a case of proving that the school district does not have to conform to the law, than real utility. I am not a neighbor of Madison, but I am now alert to the possibility of my neighborhood school trying to slip something by. This was a lose/lose.

    Comment by J — 3:57 pm January 23, 2014 #

  16. I don’t live anywhere near the school and have no interests in this dispute. How long has this school been operating? Seriously, they need a illuminated sign to fulfill their mission now?

    Comment by KT — 7:56 am January 24, 2014 #

  17. My step-daughter attends Madison. & we live near the school, walk by often, & use the field and hoops. I’d rather see the school & all if SPD use better communication than a reader board sign or all the wasteful papers that come home with the kids. Update the website, create a blog for the site, twitter feed, something else…there is so little up to date information in details in the public site.

    Comment by CE — 9:58 am January 24, 2014 #

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