Town for sale

It's official. Medford's civic image is for sale.

On Thursday, the City Council, overturning the unanimous votes of the Citizens Planning Advisory Committee and the Planning Commission, agreed to amend the city's sign ordinance to allow a 675-square-foot corporate logo to be emblazoned on each of the four sides of the Medford airport control tower.

Councilman Chris Corcoran said the move means "Medford, Oregon, is open for business."

That's one way of putting it.

This move is such a bad idea it's hard to know where to begin. Let's start with just a few of the reasons listed by the Citizens Planning Advisory Committee when it voted 8-0 to deny the airport's request on Sept. 13.

The CPAC said the airport should not be given special treatment not available to other property owners, the airport is the gateway to the city and the sign would diminish its aesthetic value, and public buildings ought not serve as billboards.

A month later, the Planning Commission voted, also 8-0, to deny the request, agreeing with the reasons cited by the PAC and adding its own, including: "There is nothing more anti-business than regulating a commodity and then saying the government can sell it and nobody else can."

In reversing the two committees, the City Council rejected the unanimous conclusions of the people it appoints to advise it on matters such as this. And council members wonder why they can't find people willing to volunteer to serve on these panels?

Airport director Bern Case says the $3,000 a month the airport would collect from the advertiser will help reduce the landing fees the airport charges, making it more attractive to airlines. What assurance does the council have that the money will go to reduce landing fees and not for some other expense? Did they get it in writing? And, even if they had bothered to get a written agreement, the reduction in landing fees would be pennies per landing.

Council members said this would be good for economic development. Better yet would be to put their money where their mouth is by rolling back some of the fees put on businesses in recent years by the city. While they're at it, they could reconsider the city's decision to penalize downtown merchants with more limits on parking times and increased parking fees.

Case says he prefers the term "branding" to "advertising." If the sign on the tower said, "Welcome to Medford," we might buy that. But a sign displaying the logo of a commercial aviation company is not "branding." It's advertising, and it's disingenuous to pretend otherwise.

A corporate sign on the control tower doesn't say Medford is open for business. It says Medford will sell anything, even our good name.

Share This Story