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Council may amend rules on temporary signs

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POSTED January 6, 2009 12:27 a.m.
LATHROP — It’s yet another sign of these tough economic times.
Businesses are resorting to every possible way and means to advertise their products and services and generate more revenue to keep their doors open.
In Manteca sometime last year, the city cracked down on nonconforming curb signs placed by a number of businesses to attract more customers.
When the same thing happened not too long ago in Lathrop, albeit to a lesser degree and one that involved banners instead of curbside A-frame signs, the targeted businesses contacted their elected city officials for guidance and assistance. The council responded by directing staff to draft a text amendment to existing city codes that would provide some flexibility to temporary advertising banners. At the same time, so as not to inflict even more difficulties on already financially hard-pressed business owners, the council ordered a moratorium on the crackdown of such promotional banners that are currently existing while an amendment to the existing sign ordinance is being  prepared.
After conducting a survey of neighboring cities’ regulations on temporary banner signs — the cities included Manteca, Ripon, Escalon, Tracy and Stockton — a draft proposal was submitted by staff to the council for consideration at their next regular meeting tonight. According to the proposed draft, advertising banners for the purpose of announcing grand openings and special sales events shall be allowed and would not require the payment of any fee or the filing of an application provided they meet certain qualifications including: square footage (limited to no more than 60 square feet), length of time on display (no more than 90 days in one year either cumulatively or consecutively), where they are to be displayed (on the storefront only and never on the roof of the building), the subject of the advertisement which would be limited to products or services available at the location where the banner is being displayed.
The other proposed amendment to existing city sign code pertains to advertising signs that are not subject to exemptions.
The above proposed standards or requirements, however, may be subject to change, deletions or additions by the council members based on what they deem appropriate to meet the needs of the business community.
Staff is also recommending that certain portions of the city’s existing sign code be deleted if the new amendment is adopted to avoid confusion or inconsistencies.
Should the council decide to pursue amending the sign code already in place, the next step for the council to do is to direct staff through the interim city manager to start the official procedure required when a city code is amended. This procedure involves:
1) the scheduling and advertising of the proposed text amendment for a public hearing before the city Planning Commission, and,
2) forwarding the Planning Commission’s recommendation to the council for another public hearing, further review and final action.
The council will meet at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 390 Towne Centre Drive, at Mossdale Landing.
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