Rules panel won’t act on spray paint ID proposal

SALEM – The Rules & Ordinances Committee of city council opted to take no action Tuesday on topics related to signage for businesses and requiring a photo ID to purchase spray paint after briefly discussing both issues.

Councilman Rick Drummond, chair of the committee, said a police officer had made the suggestion about requiring someone purchasing spray paint to provide a photo ID. The idea was mentioned after some recent reports of graffiti found on the back of a business, on some mailboxes and on someone’s vehicle, all in one night.

Drummond agreed to talk about it, but said “we’re not going to entertain the notion of putting this type of ordinance in place.”

He said the issue raised some questions, such as what’s to stop someone from going out of town to purchase spray paint for graffiti, or stealing it or getting someone else to buy it for them.

He didn’t like the idea of putting the responsibility on business owners and said then there’s the question of what do they do with the information. To him, it was “a slippery slope.”

Councilman Cyndi Baronzzi Dickey, another member of the committee, said she didn’t really see a purpose in this type of requirement unless the business was being required to keep records or produce them. She said it was a little vague. She used the example of buying some cold medicines and having to show ID to prove being old enough to buy them. She said there’s a constructive purpose to that.

Fellow committee member Councilman Clyde Brown agreed that graffiti was a problem, but he said if they approved an ordinance requiring ID to buy spray paint, “we’re going to open a room with no way out.” He noted that magic markers could also be used. He said the people should be left to police themselves on this.

Dickey said there’s nothing to stop a vendor now from asking for identification if they’re suspicious about someone buying a bunch of spray paint or if they think something’s going on.

For the sign issue, Drummond said he was approached by the owner of the Dress Code on South Lincoln Avenue about trying to get approval for a sign on a post, which apparently isn’t permitted for businesses in the C3 zoning district in downtown Salem. He noted that businesses in the C1, C2 and C4 zones are permitted to install signs on posts as long as the sign is at least 10 feet from the property line on all sides.

The committee took no action for an ordinance, but Brown agreed to work with the property owner and meet with the Planning and Zoning officer to see if a variance could be put in place or considered before the Board of Zoning Appeals.

Drummond had discussed allowing businesses in C3 to have the post signs as long as they followed the same requirements as the businesses in the other zones, but said the process would take a while to make that type of change because it would have to go before council and the Planning Commission. He said the topic of signage will likely be discussed more due to the Downtown Salem Technical Advisory Committee proposal which suggested some changes.

Businesses in the downtown area can’t have a sign that sticks out perpendicular to the building, Drummond said, which makes it hard to see where a business may be located.

Brown said he could recall when a majority of the signs at downtown businesses hung over the sidewalks and he couldn’t see where that was eliminated.

In other business, Drummond said previous questions related to sick leave should really be addressed by the Finance Committee of city council, as noted by council President Mickey Cope Weaver. The sick leave issue had been on the agenda, but he said the issue should come under Finance, not the Rules & Ordinances Committee.

Brown also brought up an issue about maintenance of rental properties and said they need to reopen some of the ordinances related to properties and how they appear, saying he’s seen sheets in windows and flags in windows.

Drummond said it’s difficult to mandate how a person’s house should look. He suggested Brown come up with wording for the changes he thinks should be made and they could at least look at his ideas.

Mary Ann Greier can be reached at