Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2009 | 7:47 p.m.
Owners of the El Rancho Boulder Motel will receive $16,500 in Redevelopment Agency money to re-install their historic sign, which tumbled and broke on Christmas Day.
The City Council, acting as the redevelopment board, approved the measure 2-1. Member Travis Chandler voted no, and Linda Strickland Mike Pacini were absent.
Redevelopment Agency money comes from taxes on rising property values in the redevelopment district and is generally spent on removing blight and improving properties within the district. Boulder City's redevelopment district includes most of the town's commercial and industrial areas and two golf courses.
Rick and Jamie Atkinson, who own the motel, said they'll spend $55,000, including the RDA grant, to repair and reinstall the sign and the landscape destroyed when the sign fell.
"Everybody in this town would like us to put the sign up the way it was," Jamie Atkinson said.
Her father opened the motel and had the sign made in 1955.
The board awarded the funds after a debate about the purpose of RDA money.
Chandler has a record of voting against giving money to businesses, and on Tuesday he said he doesn't think the local board follows the legislative intent of RDA. The business owners can probably afford to replace the sign, and RDA should go to the needy, he said.
Member Andrea Anderson said the local board set its rules and needs to continue following them until they're changed.
"If we're going to deny this, I think we have to rewrite everything," she said.
She added that her definition of "blight" doesn't match Chandler's, and RDA rules and regulations have defined it broadly.
Anything that causes loss of business, underuse of land or reduces property values is a blight, she said.
If the motel's business suffers because the sign still lies in its yard, and a maid loses a job because owners can't afford to pay the maid, that's blight, too, she said.
The city's sign ordinance doesn't allow new neon signs on poles, which is what the Atkinsons have proposed, but the city has encouraged the couple to restore the sign to its original look, Susan Danielewich, city planner, said. The sign was grandfathered in when the city's sign ordinance took effect.
The Planning Commission will need to review the sign plans to award a variance, she said.
Cassie Tomlin can be reached at 948-2073 or [email protected].