Whoa! Cave Creek becoming enchanted sign forest

The town will be paying out $8,400 in up-front costs for a pilot that has been expanded to 12 signs for four months
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whoa signCAVE CREEK – When a passel of “Whoa Slow Down Horse Town” signs began sprouting up throughout town, Sonoran News questioned who authorized them and under which section of the zoning ordinance they were authorized.

After filing a public records request, we learned the town ordered 12 of these signs, which were authorized by Planning Director Ian Cordwell. The town ordered six of the signs on Sept. 24 at a cost of $445.54 from Zumar Industries, which is based in Tacoma, Washington with a local rep in Glendale, Ariz.

It reordered another six signs on Nov. 8 at the same cost.

As of Dec. 19, according to Robert Weddigen, town staff has installed eight of the signs.

When Cordwell was asked what prompted him to order the signs, he said, Johnny Ringo, president of the Cave Creek Merchants & Events Association (CCMEA), came to him with the idea. He thought it was a good idea, had money in the budget and ordered them.

As far as the ordinance allowing them goes, we were provided a copy of the “Technical Design Guidelines – Trails.”

According to the section addressing trail signs, the guidelines state, “Trail signage should be created to perform some or all of the following functions: 1. Direction: On-street signs designed so as to direct trail users to trail access points. 2. Trailhead: Identify trail access points and parking areas. 3. Information: Included in this category are a variety of sign types which include but are not limited as following: a. Trail information (trail name, allowed usage, length, loop or non-loop, elevation gain, degree of difficulty, facilities, etc.); b. Places of access; c. Trail rules; seasonal or maintenance/construction closures; and e. TOCC contact information (i.e., reporting of trail current conditions, maintenance needs, safety concerns, suggestions for improvements). 4. Guideposts: Small trail markers used to mark points of interest and distances. Guideposts also serve to provide location information for emergency response. 5. Regulatory: Advance warning, crossing, stop, yield, curves, slow, dismount, dogs must be on leash, no bikes, etc.”

The “Whoa” signs are not on trails, but on the roadway where speed limits are also clearly posted and where speed trailers are set up temporarily in various locations throughout town to remind people of the speed limit.

The guidelines address “Sign Locations” and states, “Trail signage is important in maintaining the safety of trail users, preserving the natural environment and promoting the presence of the trail. The number and location of signs should be carefully considered, as a lack of signage or poorly located signs can create hazardous situations for trail users. An overabundance of signs can also detract from the aesthetics of the trail and decrease the quality of the trail user’s experience. Contact the Trails Coordinator for guidance in the preparation of the proposed trails signage plan.”

These are not trail signs, they’re not located on trails, they provide no useful information to drivers and may cause confusion as to what the speed limit signs actually mean.

The town currently has signs to tell people not to litter, various different animal crossing signs, and small black and white signs in the medians that can’t be read while driving the speed limit.

And now council has approved an expansion of the median banner street sign pilot project, which was also initiated by CCMEA in collaboration with the planning department without authorization from council or an ordinance in place allowing them.

The town will be paying out $8,400 in up-front costs for a pilot that has been expanded to 12 posts for four months, anticipating that the CCMEA will bring back its program with policies council will approve of along with staff bringing back the sign ordinance due to the never-ending chorus of complaints regarding the clutter of sandwich signs.

The slate of new council members campaigned against frivolous spending and Eileen Wright, when she was running for council on the same slate, demanded a forensic financial audit that she claimed would be paid for by eliminating all the frivolous spending that would be uncovered.

Well, as it turns out, the financial audit, which was for the period of time former Town Manager Usama Abujbarah was still in charge, was the cleanest ever under Finance Director Robert Weddigen and his staff, who were hired by Abujbarah. They also approved the budget developed under Abujbarah’s watch with nary a cut to anything.

Despite Wright’s accusations being proven wrong, she has since been appointed to the planning commission by the new council.

As Cave Creek continues to spend frivolously it’s slowly becoming the West’s most sign-littered town.

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