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Originally published Wednesday, March 30, 2011 at 3:53 PM

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No large signs for Seattle's skyline

The Seattle City Council is tabling for at least a year a proposed change in the city's sign ordinance that would have allowed Russell Investments to put a corporate sign on the outside of its downtown building. The council should say no permanently. It's a bad idea that will not improve with the passage of time.

RUSSELL Investments will not be allowed to put a large sign atop the old WaMu Center building for at least the rest of the year. Seattle City Council President Richard Conlin said Monday there were too many questions about the sign ordinance to consider a change until late 2011 or early 2012.

Too many questions, perhaps, Mr. Conlin, but one clear, concise answer: No. Not this year, next year or any time. Such a land-use-policy change would mar the stunningly beautiful Seattle skyline, a fact that will not change with the passage of time.

There are those who say Russell's proposal featured white lighting, was only 10 feet in height, compared with up to 18 feet in the original ordinance, and would be just one sign, west-facing — low key and tasteful.

First of all, the sign is not attractive. Second, Russell's sign would beget more signs, and in a matter of months, Seattle's gorgeous cityscape would change.

The City Council considered changing the sign ordinance, at the request of Seattle's new downtown tenant. Russell moved its headquarters from Tacoma to Seattle. The parent company of Russell bought the building for a steal. Then-Mayor Greg Nickels offered a break on the business-and-occupation tax. And the city was delighted to have a new anchor tenant.

A few council members and the mayor said at the time that the city would consider changing the sign ordinance to allow Russell's corporate logo high up on the outside of the 42-story former WaMu Center.

But the city doesn't owe Russell anything except a warm welcome and a sincere "thank you" for moving to town.

Seattle's skyline, featuring the Space Needle and tall buildings reflecting shimmery waters of Puget Sound, looks grand as it is. The council should drop this idea permanently and move on to more important business.

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