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Sign wavers no longer in a pickle

Human, A-frame signs legal next month in Manteca

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Sign wavers no longer in a pickle

Mr. Pickle is jumping for joy now that he’s no longer an illegal human sign.

Bulletin file photo/

POSTED December 12, 2012 1:59 a.m.

A dancing pickle might not seem like it would be a boost for business.

But when Kailyn Davis sends out one of her Mr. Pickle’s staffers to don the green suit that has helped make the specialty sandwich shop a visible part of the Spreckels Park dining scene, the increased customer flow is noticeable.

And the best part? It’s now officially legal.

Until the Manteca City Council made changes to the sign ordinance last week, the human signs that dotted the landscape around the city were in violation of the seldom-enforced code – only policed when a complaint was lodged.

Now, as long as the pickle that hangs around the intersection of East Yosemite Avenue and Commerce Drive does not interfere with pedestrians, cyclists or vehicles there’s no chance that he’ll end up getting the eatery slapped with a fine.

“We’ve never gotten any complaints from people about him – everybody really loves him,” Davis said.

“We get kids that run up and take pictures with him and people that will be driving by, see him, and come in and order.

“During our busy hours he really draws a lot of attention. He fills up the restaurant.”

The human signs technically don’t become legal until 45 days after the final reading and adoption by the City Council. That would occur in mid-January. However, city officials will not cite any human signs that comply with the new law which includes getting a permit and proving that the business has liability insurance.

Not everybody, however, is happy about having costumed sign-holders on the street in an attempt to drum-up business.

Curt Pernice – who owns and operates a Main Street picture framing business – was a member of the Ripon City Council when a similar sign ordinance issue came before them.

During the proceedings he referenced some of the things that he saw in Manteca and how he felt it took away from the aesthetics of the community and added a dimension that wasn’t necessarily positive regardless of the bottom-line of the businesses employing them.

He maintains that position today.

“I have no problem with banner signs as long as they’re installed in a way that they’re not obstructing anything, and the same goes for the A-Frame signs,” Pernice said. “But I think that the human signs bring a circus-like atmosphere and I think that it downgrades the community.

“And there are safety issues that you have to think about there – it’s something that has gotten out of hand. I’m sure I could go out and hire somebody to wave a sign around out in front of my shop and it would bring in some customers but it’s not good for the image of the community.”

The issue, however, isn’t something that ever really bothered Bryan O’Connell.

While driving around town O’Connell said that he was at times amused at seeing the Statue of Liberty trying to get people into the doors of Liberty Tax Service or the Mr. Pickle on E. Yosemite Avenue, but never put much thought into how they were affecting the overall ambiance of the community.

If anything bothers him, he said, it’s the banners that seem to pop up in front of every single business that opens.

“At first you only saw them in a few places,” he said. “Now they have them specialized for everything. It’s crazy.

“If they’re going to regulate anything. That should be it. Just making sure that they’re not blocking the sidewalk isn’t enough.”

A-frame & flag signs

also are now legal

The A-frames and flag banner signs were illegal - although the prohibition was rarely enforced - on city right-of-way until the final reading of the sign ordinance revision was adopted last week by the City Council.

Ordinance changes limit a business to one A-frame sign per location. Also the city will allow one flag banner per 50 linear feet of business frontage. The Flags Over Manteca flag effort is exempt from the proposed regulation. As such, it also exempts the Manteca Chamber of Commerce from providing the city with liability insurance or even to obtain a permit from the city for the flag effort.

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 need 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.

The new rules limit a business to one human sign at any given time. They do not have to stay in front of the business, though.

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