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Sign wavers, beggars the same?
Manteca posed to ban human signs at controlled intersections
Gunnar Masons sign waving at Louise Avenue and North Main Street could soon by illegal under city law. - photo by HIME ROMERO

It could be illegal in Manteca by November to either solicit money or be paid money to work as a human sign within 100 feet of controlled intersections.

That means virtually every existing human sign in Manteca – with perhaps the except of the Elite Arms sign waver on South Main midway between two controlled intersections – would be illegal.

It is part of a proposed amendment to the Manteca’s sign ordinance being considered Tuesday by the City Council when they meet at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.

Almost every human sign whether it is the Mr. Pickles mascot, the lady twirling the “buy gold” sign at Yosemite and Main, and the dancing pizza sign wavers at Louise and Main or Spreckels and Yosemite would be illegal  at their current locations if the council adopts the proposed restriction. It would also apply to non-profit sign wavers who appear at controlled intersections pushing everything from car washes to food drives during the holidays. Controlled intersections have either traffic signals or stop signs.

The requirement that sign wavers stay 100 feet away from controlled intersections was added to maintain consistency with the city’s municipal code regulating 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 intersection.

The city, though, will allow human signs anywhere else on city sidewalks and not limit them to just in front of the place of business that employs them. A-frames and flag banners and proposed to be limited to just in front of the business they advertise.

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:

• signs painted or mounted on roofs or placed above the roofline except for mansard roofs. This rule, for example, would make signs such as the one Bass Pro Shops incorporated on the slope of its roof and the outdoor retailer’s roof mounted “Boat Center” sign illegal.

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

• signs that rotate move or blink. The old Kentucky Fried Chicken rotating bucket sign, for an example, would be illegal in Manteca.

• signs place on the public right of way such as now happens on Industrial Park Drive or signs chained to city trees.

• 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. Such a sign in the past has been used extensively by a downtown furniture store.

• signs attached to light standards unless they are part of a master sign program or a street banner program.

• signs on fences.

• signs attached to vehicles where the primary purpose of the vehicle is advertising. This for example, would zero in on La Estrella Mexican restaurant that has two vehicles wrapped in advertising or the car auction sign that rolls through town on a trailer occasionally.

• off-site signs unless permitted by the city.