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Yelm garners international attention over city’s “mistake” with Tavern

“White Horse Tavern owner Kyle Phillips is relieved that a sign policy in the City of Yelm
exempting patriotic banners has been clarified and includes his establishment.”
Photo credit: Steve Bloom, McClatchy newspapers, taken June 30, 2015.

Our three area newspapers carried very high-profile and front-page, top of fold headlines on the city’s flap with White Horse Tavern.

– “Tavern’s patriotic banner causes flap in Yelm”
“Red tape has entangled the red, white, and blue Fourth of July banner that decorates the front of a historic Yelm tavern.

When Kyle Phillips, the owner of the White Horse Tavern, got a letter Friday from the city telling him his patriotic banner — a series of triangular stars-and-stripes flags tacked along the outside of the building — was out of compliance with the city’s sign code, he posted his dismay on the business’ Facebook page.

Outrage quickly spread, with more than 1,400 shares and 700-plus comments, and 188,000 views.”

“It was a mistake, said Yelm Mayor Ron Harding. Harding posted a reply to the business’s Facebook page Wednesday, confirming that the White Horse could continue to display the banner without penalty.

Yelm’s sign code exempts the American flag and decorations for holidays and special events, Harding said,” by Jerre Redecker, The Olympian.
Read more

– “Tavern Owner’s Patriotic Banner Can Stay”
“Yelm Mayor Harding Says Letter Asking for Permit Was in Error”
“The city’s letter, dated June 23, states, “This notice is sent to you to request that you bring the banners located at your business into compliance with the Yelm Municipal Code. … Temporary signs, such as banners and flags are only allowed as part of a special event.”

Under the section of the code applying to special events, temporary signs are allowed for 14 days at a time, limited to four times per year, and must be removed at the end of the 14-day period, according to the letter. Temporary signs are also not allowed to be larger than 20 square feet.

Yelm Mayor Ron Harding has since said the letter was a mistake, as the banner falls under an exemption that allows decorations as an expression of national holidays, as well as an exemption for the American flag as a form of expression,” quoting Steven Wyble, Nisqually Valley News.
Read more

– The same story was carried in The Olympian sister newspaper, the Tacoma News Tribune.
Click here

– Seattle covers City of Yelm “mistake” with White Horse Tavern
From The Seattle Times.
Read more

Editor’s Note:
While Mr. Harding acknowledges the city’s letter was sent in error, the fact that Yelm sent notices about alleged city code violations to 20 businesses the same week the mayor sent a survey polling businesses on their views of city hall, are totally at odds with each other. This “mistake” demonstrates what others have said previously, Yelm IS “business unfriendly.”
Had Tavern owner Phillips not taken this issue to social media, resolution would not have been this quick, for sure. BRAVO to him for having done so.

Mayor Harding also omitted how the city staff will be trained in using common sense for these situations in the future.
Yelm Building Inspector John Rowland’s letters were sent on an order from one of his bosses at City Hall – either Mayor Harding, City Administrator Shelly Badger or Community Development Director Grant Beck. Harding said, “These letters were prompted by complaints from residents and businesses that violations were not being fully enforced,” so the Tavern letter came from the top.
Sending this letter by “mistake” on the eve of Prairie Days and at the same time as a Mayor’s Businesses Survey seems to me suggests a management issue at City Hall.

Posted by Steve on July 3, 2015 at 6:54 am | Permalink

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