Tumwater deliberates church signage and use

Councilmembers debate sign size


Tumwater’s General Government Committee argued an amendment to the city’s municipal code, which will allow 15-feet signage for churches in residential zone districts during their meeting yesterday, September 14.

Tumwater’s municipal code currently states that the height of any freestanding sign should not exceed six feet in residential zone districts.

On June 8, the city staff proposed to the committee that public buildings like schools should be exempted from this rule as part of the yearly amendments to the municipal code. The city staff proposed signages up to 15 feet in height and 55 square feet in area. Signs may be freestanding or wall-mounted.

Councilmember Leatta Dahlhoff had asked whether the same could be applied to churches, which the city staff agreed to. Councilmember Michael Althauser expressed his reservations on the issue.

“Schools make sense to me because you can also display messages of community concern on there… But potentially enormous signs in a residential neighborhood for a church just strikes me as unnecessary,” Althauser said.

Councilmember Joan Cathey defended the proposal, saying churches have been used for different purposes, such as serving as food banks, vaccination sites, and community gardens.

The proposal is part of an ordinance addressing yearly housekeeping amendments to the city’s development code, which concerns sections of the municipal code for the environment, land division, and zoning.

The ordinance includes 14 other minor changes to the municipal code. The committee agreed to recommend the ordinance for now as the city council will continue to discuss it in a work session on September 27 before voting on it on October 4.


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  • Citizen

    While politicians may need 15 feet signs to advertise themselves, GOD does not. Who benefits for this kind of clutter in our neighborhoods, surely not GOD, perhaps only those churches or politicians who feel the need to advertise instead of doing good work to help the community. The kind of work which in and of itself shows the purpose of the church.

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