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Lathrop council OKs temporary banner signs
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LATHROP – Lathrop businesses are getting a little help from the city during these hard economic times.

Under a municipal code amendment unanimously approved by the City Council at their regular meeting last week, businesses within the city limits are allowed to use temporary advertising signs such as banners or streamers on their store front without worrying about being slapped with stiff penalties by a code enforcement officer. The signs are limited to such occasions as grand opening announcements and other special events.

The council voted on the recommendation made by the Planning Commission which conducted a public hearing on the matter. In approving the amendment for final action by the council, the commission asked that one minor language change be included, which is to allow the Planning Division to consider requests for banners that are larger than the ones being exempted from penalties.

Under the new amendment, any business establishment in Lathrop’s incorporated jurisdiction does not have to worry about a visit by the code enforcement officer regarding a potential violation, or being slapped by a penalty fee from the city, if they follow the following exemption requirements:

• The temporary banner is no larger than 60 square feet

• The banner is displayed no more than 90 days during any given calendar year.

• It is located on the store front or building where the business is located.

• It does not go any higher than the roof line.

• It is attached or anchored securely to the building

• Announcement is limited to the name of the business, the type of event such as a “grand opening” and the services provided.

• The banner has the approval of the property’s owner or agent.

Businesses that want to use a temporary banner that do not meet the above criteria may file a no-fee Sign Design application. However, these banners have to abide by the following restrictions as introduced in the newly amended code:

• They do not exceed 200 square feet; however, signs larger than that may be considered by the Planning Division.

• They are used for no more than 120 days in a calendar year.

• They meet all the other criteria for the smaller banners listed above.

The council took the step of revisiting the municipal code governing temporary business banners and streamers late last year when Mayor Kristy Sayles brought up a concern referred to her by a dental office in town. To drum up new business, the business owner had put up a banner to let the public know that they are open on weekends. That action prompted a visit by the city’s code enforcement officer who informed the business owner that the legally nonconforming banner needed to be taken down. The business owner then called the mayor for assistance.

The mayor noted at that time that in these hard economic times, “there’s got to be some way” to help businesses in town advertise their products and services.

Some council members, however, raised some concerns. Council member Robert Oliver, for example, said that although he does not have any problem with business putting up signs, he nevertheless wanted to know, “where does the regulation stop?”

He added, “I always have trouble when government intrudes further and further into private affairs.”

The purpose of the municipal code regulation is to “avoid unsightly, inharmonious, competing, cluttered and hazardous location and appearance of signs.”