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City may demand insurance coverage for A-frames, banner flags on sidewalk

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POSTED September 17, 2012 12:50 a.m.

Del Taco’s A-frame sign hawking fish taco deals on the sidewalk could soon be illegal.

So may a host of signs lining the West Yosemite Avenue sidewalk in front of a shopping center anchored by Rite-Aid and Save Mart.

And those who could still legally place A-frame signs as well as banner flags within the city’s right-of-way may have to provide the city with proof of liability insurance in order to secure a permit allowing the signs.

Also people staging garage sales are limited to only four signs that cannot be attached to power poles or light standards.

Language in the proposed sign ordinance changes being considered by the Manteca City Council when they meet Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St., specifically forbids A-frame signs on public sidewalks if the business they are promoting is within a shopping center or an office complex. Del Taco was approved as part of the overall plans approved by the city in 1999 for the Spreckels Marketplace shopping center.

A-frames and banner flags - considered portable signs - can only be placed in front of the business they are promoting. The banner flags can be placed in the holes drilled for the Flags Over Manteca effort on days the flags are not flying.

One section of the proposed sign ordinance changes limits a business to one A-frame sign per location but in another  section it states businesses are allowed “one sign or one flag per 50 linear feet of business frontage” which could be interpreted as a business with 100 feet being allowed two A-frame signs even though it states elsewhere they can only have one per location.

The 50-foot rule would substantially weed down the number of banner signs many businesses have. A mid-block gas station just east of Powers Avenue on Yosemite Avenue, for example, has three banner flags hawking everything from beer to ice with a frontage of just over 50 linear feet. The same is true for a cigarette store closer to Cottage Avenue on East Yosemite Avenue.

The ordinance allows banner flags  which are defined as portable signs - in the holes drilled for the Flags Over Manteca effort. But one change in the ordinance states all portable signs shall be set back one foot from the curb. That clearly eliminates the vast majority of the flag pole holes that are less than a foot from the curb’s edge.

At the same time, flags - including apparently where the banner flags flutter to - must allow four feet of clear passage  on city sidewalks. That is not the case when wind catches banner flags now placed along sections of North Main Street and East Yosemite Avenue. The four-foot clearance is mandated by state and federal rules governing handicap access.

Portable signs also cannot be placed to obstruct access to the sidewalk from parked cars. That means signs in the downtown corridor would have to be placed far enough from the curve to allow doors to open. Nor can portable signs be placed in city medians, city landscaping, or any public right-of-way such as a street.

Proposed sign ordinance changes would make it  illegal for human signs to be within 100 feet of controlled intersections.

The proposed requirement that sign wavers stay 100 feet away from controlled intersections was added to maintain consistency with the city’s municipal code regulation aggressive solicitation. A staff report indicates consistency between the two sections of the municipal code establishes equal treatment under the law because a sign soliciting “work for food” is considered no different than one soliciting customers to purchase a product.

Manteca officials made it clear several years ago that the solicitation provision applied to off duty firefighters who were passing the boot for charity at onetime at the South Main and Mission Ridge Drive

The new rules limit a business to one human sign at any given time.

Human signs as well as A-frame and banner signs would require a city permit along with proof of liability insurance. The city would charge a small fee to recover the cost of issuing sign permits.

The ordinance also would outlaw among other things:

• signs painted or mounted on roods or placed above the roofline except for mansard roofs.

• animated or flashing signs with the exception of time and temperature signs and electronic message signs that have a use permit.

• inflatable balloon signs including and not limited dot individual balloons and other inflatable objects made of a flexible material and inflated so as to be lighter than air.

• signs on fences.

• signs attached to vehicles where the primary purpose of the vehicle is advertising.

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