Route 66 News

Albuquerque proposes incentives for more neon along Route 66

Mayor Richard Berry and the City of Albuquerque are considering proposals that would lead to more and bigger neon signs along the city’s Route 66 corridor, reported the Albuquerque Journal.

According to the newspaper, the ideas include:

— Allowing bigger signs. A free-standing neon sign, for example, could be up to 50 percent bigger than what is normally allowed in the underlying zoning category — up to 250 square feet. A building-mounted sign, meanwhile, could be 25 percent larger than what’s normally allowed.

— Providing more height flexibility. Free-standing signs could be up to 30 feet tall, 4 feet higher than what’s currently allowed.

— Allowing free-standing, pole-mounted signs in the Nob Hill and Highland area of East Central, where they’re now prohibited. The newly allowed signs could be up to 75 square feet and stand at a height of 26 feet, or the height of the tallest building, whichever is lower. The sign would have to be mostly neon and meet other requirements.

— Waiving permit fees, which range roughly from $50 to $200.

To qualify for the incentives, the applicant would have to meet at least one of several design guidelines. The options include using neon to light the text of the sign (to avoid just border-illuminated signs) and making the sign a novel shape (to avoid the standard rectangles and squares).

The sign must be at least 50 percent neon to qualify for the incentives.

The article cited the case of Eric Szeman and his Route 66 Malt Shop. When he moved his restaurant from the western part of Central Avenue (aka Route 66) to the Nob Hill area, it kept him from using his pole-mounted neon sign. The sign now sits in storage.

Due to the plethora of neon signs already on Route 66 in the Duke City, I was surprised to read about the restrictions on such signage in certain portions of the city. If Albuquerque wants to embrace its Route 66 heritage, this seems like a good move.

Editor’s note: I release Szeman and his Route 66 Malt Shop appear in consecutive but unrelated stories on Route 66 News. Both stories appeared online within hours of each other.

(Photo of the Monterrey Non-Smokers Motel neon sign along Route 66 in Albuquerque by dv over dt, via Flickr)


3 thoughts on “Albuquerque proposes incentives for more neon along Route 66

  1. DynoDave

    That Monterey sign is sweet! I love the stuff, and would have no problem with loosening restrictions on signage.

    But if they are finding these rules to be too restrictive, wouldn’t the fair thing to do be to loosen the rules throughout town? It does not seem very fair to business owners in other parts of the same city to closely regulate their signage, where owners of businesses on just one road are allowed to build much larger signs.

  2. RT

    Signs are nice, but it would be nice if they started with incentives to not tear down all the old buildings and figure out how to reuse them!

  3. Tim Anderson

    Hey, that’s my shot! Thanks for the attribution, and yes, I think so many of the anti neon sign laws were put on the books before the craftsmanship and sheer artistry of these signs were ever given due consideration. A few short years ago the city of Addison was faced with a similar decision which decided the fate of the classic Googie era Sigel’s sign which for years had brightened up the intersection of Lemmon Avenue and Inwood Road in downtown Dallas. I am so grateful to those people in Addison who signed off on a variance so that the classic old sign could live on in Addison…but it should not take a variance to get the job done. Those laws are from the late 1960s and early 1970s, they have served their purpose and now need to get out of the way.

    As an aside, I have stayed at the Monterey on several different occasions over the past two years: spotless rooms, comfortable beds, a wiener dog in the lobby and easy access to 66 and Old Town. What more could one possibly ask of a classic motel?

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