New Ordinance Creates Design and Development Standards For On-Site Signage

City Council moved forward Tuesday Night on updating the signage code for both ease of understanding and enforcement.

Included in the proposed ordinance are details on what kinds of signs are going to be prohibited or preferred. The non-retroactive code seeks to address what City staff believes are “visual nuisances” and hopes to encourage “higher-quality sign designs” from business owners. 

The intent of the new sign regulations focuses on three areas: modernizing the regulations, enhancing the creativity and flexibility in signage design and raising the quality standard across the city.

“Our old code was very complicated and user un-friendly,” City staff said in their notes on the agenda item.  

Some of the approved sign classifications are blade signs, which are signs that extend out from the building in intricate designs, such as Nick’s on 2nd’s and Lucky Brand Jeans’ signage on Second Street in Belmont Shore. Wall-painted signs are also approved, allowing entry-level signage for businesses without the same amount of funds for larger signage. The Pacific Island Ethnic Art Museum was one of the examples City Staff demonstrated as effective use of wall paintings.  

Cabinet signs, which are box-like and feature just the name of the business, are going to be required to have push-through lettering. This push through lettering is designed to create dimension and texture for the signage, increasing the aesthetic value.  

Concerns were raised about the price point difference in the new signage code: changes not only can cost businesses more money to display signage, but will also eliminate businesses that deal in signage that is prohibited. New expenses to modify, or purchase tools and equipment for businesses to be able to create new signage could be a hurdle many small businesses.  

Another overhaul was the temporary signage code dealing with banners. The current system is a series of on and off again time limits for banners, dictating for how long, and how long between the banners can go up for. The new signage code now allows for businesses, on a 12 month rolling basis, have 90 total days banner signs can be put up. For businesses who want to advertise seasonal sales, or other promotions, they have an allotment of 90 days during which a banner can be up in a 12 month time period. These 90 days can be split up in any number of ways, up to the business’s discretion.  

“With these changes we do believe we have come up with a much more modern sign code that does meet the needs for many of our businesses, and pushes the envelope of the design process, and lets us manage the design process better,” City staff said.

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