Walking Street bars agree to change signs, but not until city fixes power grid

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Walking Street business owners said they will agree to rework their signature neon signs, but not until city hall fixes the overhead wiring. The city’s chronic lack of maintenance repeatedly has led to blackouts during business hours and even the occasional transformer explosion, like the one that sparked the fire that gutted the Blue Sky music bar earlier this year.
Walking Street business owners said they will agree to rework their signature neon signs, but not until city hall fixes the overhead wiring. The city’s chronic lack of maintenance repeatedly has led to blackouts during business hours and even the occasional transformer explosion, like the one that sparked the fire that gutted the Blue Sky music bar earlier this year.

But not until city fixes power grid

Walking Street business owners said they will agree to rework their signature neon signs, but not until city hall fixes the overhead wiring.

Walking Street vendors said that they will move their signs as long as the wires and cables are sorted.
Walking Street vendors said that they will move their signs as long as the wires and cables are sorted.

At the latest meeting called about Pattaya’s contentious proposal to downsize Walking Street bar and restaurant signs, City Councilman Saksit Yaemsri unveiled an artist’s rendering of how authorities envision the nightlife strip could look.

The rendering shows all of Walking Street’s signs reduced to a vertical, uniform size protruding only slightly from each shophouse, as they do in nightlife sections of Tokyo, Seoul and Phnom Penh.

Critics said the homogenized look would ruin Walking Street’s unique image. Pattaya officials contend it would make the street safer for pedestrians and allow easier access for emergency vehicles – even though tests have shown none of the current signs obstruct fire trucks.

The more-than-100 business owners assembled grumbled mild acceptance of the idea, but threw up a condition to their compliance: Reorganize Walking Street’s jumble of power and utility lines and overhaul the power-distribution system.

City hall’s chronic lack of maintenance repeatedly has led to blackouts during business hours and even the occasional transformer explosion, like the one that sparked the fire that gutted the Blue Sky music bar earlier this year.

Basically, if you want our help, you have to do something for us first, the operators told the city council.

Officials mumbled general acknowledgement of the wiring problem, but offered no firm commitment or timeframe. Instead, they offered up some “short-term” regulations to inch businesses toward their end goal.

Businesses were offered three options:

* Signs should be no more than 60 centimeters from the wall and no larger than two meters tall.

* Awnings should be no more than 30 centimeters from the wall and at least 2.5 meters off the ground.

* Signs above awnings should be no more than 60 centimeters from the wall and at least 2.5 meters above the ground.

Former Pattaya mayor Suchai Ruayrin said businesses would not comply with even those short-term rules until something is done about the power lines.

He said rewiring all the signs and installing new ones would be infeasible given the poor condition of the wiring and infrastructure.