Homeowners associations are tasked with the unenviable responsibility of maintaining community standards. Personal property appearances, landscape maintenance and dog refuse in common areas fall within their purview; apparently so do banners advertising local businesses.

Foothills Family Dental was not aware of this. Just prior to Easter we received an email order from Rossmar and Graham directing that the banner we’d hung outside our front door thanking our patients for voting us Best Dentist 2012 be removed immediately or we would be fined. We had received approval from the Ahwatukee Foothills News for use of their logo in our banner, and our property manager knew we’d hung it. We thought that was sufficient.

Why would we think that? A five-minute stroll through the four commercial corners on Chandler and Desert Foothills would answer that question. Banners offer food and drink specials, new business services, vacant space availability, oil changes, low-cost checking accounts, large soft drinks, and real estate deals. Banners come in all sizes, colors and locations around businesses. Balloons, sandwich boards and the occasional guy-in-a-suit twirling arrows and wearing sandwich boards round out the advertising methods.

Our order to remove our banner was accompanied by a 38-page copy of city code explaining the do’s and don’ts of banners in Phoenix. And yes, in fairness to Rossmar, our banner was larger than what city code proscribes.

But Rossmar, maybe it’s time to think before acting. Part of maintaining our nice Foothills community should include supporting the businesses that are there specifically for community benefit. The vast majority are small businesses; they do not have budgets for TV or major advertising campaigns. We’ve had several neighborhood business owners stop in our office to ask where we had our banner made. We’ve had several patients stop in or call to thank us for thanking them. Our banner contributes to the sense of community Rossmar purports to foster; taking it down detracts from it.

Homeowners in our community patronize the businesses on the four corners. They enjoy and utilize quality services minutes from home. With so many vacant spaces in every commercial property there, Rossmar should be interested in developing/maintaining businesses, not solely on enforcing rules.

How should Rossmar enforce banner rules while simultaneously promoting the businesses our community uses and helping to fill vacant business spaces? To start a community discussion, we propose that:

1. Rossmar relax its rules and allow businesses in our community to continue advertising as they are already doing.

2. All existing banners, balloons, window advertisements, etc. be grandfathered in as acceptable advertising in our community. It’s already there. We have learned that other businesses in the four corners have been similarly threatened with fines by Rossmar, while others have never been contacted and were not aware Rossmar had any say. Existing advertising could be allowed for a specified period of time, say a year.

3. Rossmar create a small, volunteer committee, to include its board, a few interested homeowners, and a few local business owners, to meet once or twice to establish rules for advertising in our community that will be adhered to by all and not arbitrarily applied. These rules could then be presented to the businesses and maintained as a uniform standard going forward.

Foothills businesses should have input into the advertising rules that affect their existence. We all live and work here; let’s get together and discuss it.

• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Bob Marra is office manager at Foothills Family Dental.

(2) comments

Chet

Two weeks ago I went out into my backyard to enjoy the sunny day and beautiful blue sky my creator gave to me only to look up and see a plane towing an ad for a national insurance company, complete with smiling gecko face.

There are very few moments of the day in the modern world where someone isn't shoving their ads in our faces, trying to separate us from our money for their personal gain.

We always buy local first, when our neighbors prosper we all prosper, but whining that you're not allowed to break the rules so you can intrude on our day with your ads isn't getting me to your door.

Bob

In response to my recent editorial on advertising in the Foothills I would like to thank Ms. Jocelyn Ross, Manager of Rossmar Management, for having made the effort to call and talk with me this past week. I found Ms. Ross articulate, engaging and interested in the topic. She informed me that the Foothills Board had read my editorial and, while differences remain, the Board had invited me to make a presentation at a future board meeting. My daughter's graduation precludes me from attending their May meeting, but I hope to speak at their next meeting after that.

Toward that end, I welcome suggestions from the community, homeowners and business owners alike, that will contribute positively to the discussion. Anyone interested in proferring ideas may contact me here through this discussion group, or privately at Foothills Family Dental. Thank you in advance for being interested in this topic; I look forward to working with you.

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