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Starbucks Sign Code Violations

Starbucks Coffee is engaging in multiple and repeated violations of Portland's sign code, causing safety hazards and inconvenience for the disabled.
2328 W Burnside
2328 W Burnside
2328 W Burnside
2328 W Burnside
1301 NW 23
1301 NW 23
1301 NW 23
1301 NW 23
1301 NW 23
1301 NW 23
The first two pictures were taken in front of the Starbucks Coffee at 2328 W. Burnside Suite 2. Note the narrow sidewalk along one of the busiest streets in the city. This placement of the sign isn't as bad as I've seen it: sometimes most of the sidewalk has been blocked. Note also that the sign is unlicensed -- there's no city license sticker on either side of it.

I'd sure hate to be in a wheelchair and faced with that obstacle and the choice of backing up half a block or risking my life in a traffic lane on Burnside. Yet apparently Starbucks thinks that's part of the price people must pay in order for them to advertise their coffee.

The next three pictures are of the sign in front of the Starbucks at 1301 NW 23 Ave. Thankfully, the sidewalk is wider here, so we don't have the disabled being held hostage to Starbucks' corporate lust for profits. However the sign is still unregistered. And it's smack dab in the middle of a bus zone; I doubt that's legal either. Apparently Starbucks thinks they are too important to be bothered with the rules that every other business has to follow.

That's just two examples in my backyard. What's the situation in other parts of town?

If Starbucks is breaking the law in your neighborhood and you don't like it, call Patty in the city's sign enforcement division at 503-823-7315. Let's put an end to this lawless corporate behavior!

address: address: Portland, OR

hmmmmm... 24.May.2004 14:32


so...are we to go around and check on the independent stores that also have unlicensed sandwich boards too and MAKE CERTAIN that city hall is called on them as well? what is that phrase...get a life?

We're Not All Abled Bodied 24.May.2004 15:16

North Portlander

Hey, a lot of those plastic paper boxes are just as bad. There are two in our neighborhood blocking not only the sidewalk, but access to the crossing button for stop lights. Ambulatory people can reach over the box, but someone in a scooter or chair would have to move the box out of the way first.

I also frequently see people parking at the foot of their own driveways, blocking the sidewalk when they have the option of parking along the curb in front of their home, and there are currently several instances of heavy yard debris all over the sidewalk; one home a couple of blocks away cut down a tree and carted a dryer out in front of their house and the resulting mess has been completely blocking the entire sidewalk for over a week.

This sort of thing happens all the time and it's an example of laziness, selfishness and self-centerness and ignorance about what sort of space the disabled, parents with stroller, people with dogs, or the frail old require to travel public sidewalks. These people can't climb over, or skirt around, stuff like this; they are forced into the street.

Yes, there are lots of other things to worry about in this day and age, but this is a BIG thing to someone with limited ability to get around. These folks already have a hard enough time since there are still plenty of corners in Portland without curb cuts, curb cuts filled with debris, or with poor curb cuts, necessitating long detours to driveways.

What are the rules for folding signs in the Sign Code ? 24.May.2004 15:51

Buck Hunter

IH8CHNS do you have a handy web link to the Portland sign code rules so we'll know what to look out for? I'm sure I can find it searching but if you have it handy post it here.


code 24.May.2004 16:09


i used to work at an independent food joint downtown right near pioneer square. agents of the city repeatedly came in and forced the owner to remove a sign that was on the sidewalk in a place very similar to that shown in the picture above. i believe the code only applies in a certain area downtown and i dont know if that includes burnside. the owner finally relented and took the sign off the sidewalk after one agent in particulr returned and threatened to fine $500. she was not nice, in fact she was a bitch about the whole thing - sceaming, and i mean screaming about the rights of the disabled - so that is the essence of the code from what i could tell at the time. it could be that it applies to burnside. i dont know. it bears looking into. i can tell you that that woman that came in the shop that day would have no pity on anyone, corporate or not.

OK, pdx Sign Code 24.May.2004 17:00


so it's selectively enforced -

let's just make sure that Corporate Starfucks (and not local-owned businesses) are exclusively the ones to get slammed with violations.

just do it 24.May.2004 17:31

interrupting cow

If stuff's illegally in the way let's get rid of it-kick it into the street, cut the cables on those annoying paper boxes, etc.

Sidewalk sign rules 24.May.2004 17:36


The six foot rule is mentioned here:  http://www.trans.ci.portland.or.us/Pedestrians/SharingOurSidewalks.HTM

Don't know where the license requirement is mentioned, but it's obvious there is one just from looking at the stickers on all the licensed signs.

Portland, OR

get a life - truly 24.May.2004 18:05


...and so you'll also be interested in telling homeless youth to stop blocking the sidewalks? What's good for the goose is good for the gander. I agree, if a sign is blocking passageway, it should be enforced. But this is nothing short of the "I hate Starbucks" rant.

re: Get a Life 24.May.2004 18:22


Dear Me:

I believe that someone just wrote about how the signs and newspaper boxes do make life difficult for disabled individuals. Someone else suggested cutting the cables that secure the illegally placed boxes. As the newspaper boxes are placed there mostly by local, small publishers, you can hardly call that singling out Starbucks. I think what rankled the original poster was that while local businesses are getting cited for illegally placing their sandwich boards, Starbucks is apparently getting away with it in numerous places, with impunity.

"nothing short of the "I hate Starbucks" rant." 24.May.2004 19:56



as long as Starfucks starts PAYING THEIR WAY in our community,

i got no problems slamming them HARD with violations.


Sandwich boards 25.May.2004 06:26


I work at a small business on hawthorne, and we were fined for not having a permit for our sandiwch board, and you do have to make sure there is room around it for people to move.
I think if our small business has to pay this fine and fee then Starbucks should also.
Starbucks can afford to pay for a lot more than we can..

reply to me 25.May.2004 07:34

Pinky Atomic

What you don't get is that most people sitting on the side walk if they notice someone coming will move out of the way with minimal trouble. However no matter how nicely you ask a sandwich board it will stay put. also, while I do especially like getting starbucks, we do need to respect the rights of people to pass along on the sidewalk. The issue is essentially this, the sit lie ordinance is ALSO selectively inforced. Only someone who looks homeless, young or not white is likely to get a sit lie citation. And before someone spouts up about it, let me just stop and remind people how much suburban ass regularly blocks the sidewzalks downtown.

It is ok to pick up and dispose of litter on the street 25.May.2004 08:09


If there is a sign in your neighborhood that is unreasonably blocking the sidewalk, or is a visual blight, remove it yourself. I have looked and can't verify this, but my recall is that an unlicensed A-board sign can be picked up by anyone and discarded. Some of these signs are well built with good plywood. They might make good saw horses, or painted up and used as table supports.

I don't have a problem with these signs, owned by anyone, being used conscientiously. They are much better than the huge lighted signs on posts that you see on every major street.

My peeves are the crappy news boxes and abandoned shopping carts. If I owned a truck I would have some fun at nights loading these things up and taking them to the dump transfer station for recycling.

Quit being a wuss and pick it up and take it away 25.May.2004 09:01


What's the big deal?

Just pick it up and haul it off.

cars in my way 25.May.2004 09:12


and what of cars, they are continually in my way. they are so much more dangerous then news boxes, they move. visually annoying also are the bilboards displaying the revolution of low carb beers. where is the petition to establish a city inside of a city, kind of like the vatican but centered around true advancement and not the leach of religion? cheers, be happy the sun is out.


MAd as Hell and not takin' it anymore!!! 25.May.2004 10:15

who cares

This sign violation is an abomination! I'm quittin' my job, leavin' my family and taking up signs against Starbucks. I'll march in the streets! I'll march in the alley ways! I'll march until this corporate whore learns it's lesson about blockin' them there sidewalks, damn it! I'll march with my signs until they scoot their signs over another 3 inches and stop blockin' them there pathways! It's outrageous. It's unbelievable! Never again! Never again! Wake up people! Never again! Inform! Unite! Revolt! Uh, yeah...

Nice reply from the city bureau 25.May.2004 10:47


Lady at the city says that signs are placed properly, though without permits. Question, though, is, aren't they still blocking foot traffic?

Thank you for your e-mail and pictures. I have visited both of these
Starbucks locations and they were sent application letters on April 12,
2004. As of today neither location has registered their boards and are due
to receive the second notice (citation letter). These business owners could
receive up to 3 citations before we are able to confiscate their portable
sign. Typically business owners will register their signs by the second

In response to placement, both address are in compliance with City of
Portland Title 32. Title 32.32.30(e), which states portable signs must be
within six inches of the curb (all pictures comply with this). Although
sidewalks are subject to size variances, the general rule is pedestrian
right of way not be impeded by the portable sign.

If you have any questions, please call me at the number below.

Patty Van Antwerp

Commercial Non-Electrical Sign Specialist
City of Portland
(503 823-7315

The law? 25.May.2004 11:00

Some dude

The author seems to be mighty quick to start hunting for zoning laws with SBs. Is there a law against property damage as in the Division street Starbucks 'fire bomb' incident?

Right of way 25.May.2004 11:56


So how many pedestrians would have to complain for the City to figure out that the sidwald is being blocked?
Could someone who uses a mobility device bring action under The Americans With Disabilities Act?
Is there any ordenence to stop US from confiscating the signs???

No Divine Right of Capitali$t Property 25.May.2004 14:59


If the "sandwich board" sign is in the way move it out of the way as simply and expeditiously as possible and move on. It might be suggested that this be done if the sign is truly in the way, to avoid allegations of doing deliberate mischief. "In the way", for instance, would mean--

-- that a pedestrian cannot use a sidewalk without twisting and edging around the sign, or having to leave the sidewalk and walk in the street;

-- causing an otherwise two laned sidewalk to be useable by only one person (pedestrian, pedestrian with a load, handtruck, child stroller, person seated in a moving chair or similar mobility aid while seated, using ambulatory aids (cane, crutches, walker) moving in one direction, while another person coming from the other direction has to wait for the other to pass or leave the sidewalk and walk in the street...

More 25.May.2004 16:00


Help, I've fallen and I can't reach my latte.

Think about it.

good work despite the rhetoric 26.May.2004 12:51

Just Curious

Good follow up with the city. Shows that action is being taken not only on your part, but also on the city's part after a complaint from a concerned citizen (and even before from the city's reply stating she's visited both locations before).

Looking at the pictures, the signs appear to be right up against the curb more or less in line with, in one case a tree, and in the other case a street pole. I'll presume that the original posters statement regarding "safety hazards and inconvenience for the disabled" was simply empty rhetoric used to spark outrage because I can't fathom why any diabled individual, let alone non-disabled individual, would be moving inches from traffic in a collision course with immovable, permanent objects.

Don't have a clue 24.Mar.2005 22:10

wheelchair user

This is not rhetoric; sidewalk signs block access for people in wheelchairs. Many times I have been forced to use the parking lane because sidewalks are blocked or are in disrepair. Yes, I have been extremely afraid of being hit.

It has not gone unnoticed the ignorance and prejudice the nondisabled have regarding accessibility. Therefore,I suggest a law be passed that requires all stairs be removed. Now figure out how you will conduct business without being able to enter a building or get to the second floor of a building with no elevator or stairs. I suggest a law be passed that all doors must weigh 1 ton. Now figure out how you will open those doors. These are the barriers wheelchair users face when there are no ramps, elevators, and automatic door openers. You say you lost your job because the building is not accessible. So what! That is what some of you said in response to this article.

If you believe accommodations for persons with disabilities do not benefit you, stop using sidewalk curb ramps. If you believe accommodations aren't important to you, remember, disability is an equal opportunity provider. This is the only minority group where anyone can become a member and that's not rhetoric that's a fact.