The city of Redmond has had rules prohibiting businesses from putting out temporary signs without a permit for years, but only began enforcing them last week.

REDMOND — The city of Redmond has had rules prohibiting businesses from putting out temporary signs without a permit for years, but only began enforcing them last week.

The city did not enforce the rules for two years while crews finished road projects around downtown, including the rerouting of U.S. Highway 97, but that work is now complete, the Bulletin newspaper in Bend reported.

On Sept. 1, the city began focusing on signs such as sandwich boards and lawn signs, and sent nine letters to businesses in that week. Those who are not in compliance face $500 fines.

Community Development Director Heather Richards said she has received about 45 calls from businesses, and only two or three complained about the compliance effort. The city has tried to roll the new enforcement out slowly, she said.

"It's not like it's a sting effort," said Richards.

In August, the city council reduced the city's sign permit fee from $166.92 to $50, a rate that will stay in effect through the end of 2010.

Jody Ramos, a hairdresser at Axis Salon, said the salon will probably pull its sign instead of paying the fee. The salon, in view of City Hall, opened in February and has had a sandwich board on Sixth Street.

Now that the business has been in place, locals know about the salon and so the fee is not worth it, Ramos said.

"We're just not going to put them out," Ramos said. "I think that's what (the city) wants."

Richards said the intent of the law was not to get rid of business signs, but rather to ensure the signs stay in front of stores and do not block sidewalks.

Greg Murren, co-owner of Collage, a gift and card shop, said his store sits just north of the bulk of downtown, so sandwich board signs are important to grab the attention of shoppers.

Murren said he plans to pay the $50 fee soon. Without the signs, Murren worries foot traffic would fall off.

"I just think I have to have those," he said.