Glendale merchants battling a stringent sign ordinance got a clear message from the City Council this week that the law will be strictly enforced even though one company was granted an exception last fall.
The council Tuesday unanimously denied a request by McMahan's Furniture to retain a rooftop sign at its store at 225 S. Brand Blvd. City officials said the council action is expected to block similar requests by dozens of businesses that have sought to retain signs that do not conform with the law.
McMahan's sought to keep the sign after the council in November granted Seeley's furniture store permission to retain its bright red, neon rooftop sign, which had been called the "red beacon of Glendale."
Council members said they wanted to save Seeley's sign because of its historical significance. But, because the ordinance does not allow for historical preservation, the council based its decision on such reasons as the need for Seeley's sign to compete with large signs at nearby auto dealerships.
The action prompted a number of other businesses to seek similar exceptions.
Insurance broker Bob New is seeking to overturn the sign ordinance in court because of the exception granted Seeley's.
Tuesday's council action indicated that few, if any, exceptions will be granted. City Zoning Administrator John McKenna, in urging the council to deny McMahan's request, said the decision could affect about 15% of all businesses in the city--those that have not complied with the sign law.
Bans Rooftop Signs
The stringent sign law, which bans rooftop signs, including billboards, and protruding signs and limits the size of signs, was adopted in 1973 but did not take effect until about a year ago.
McKenna said that about 85% of businesses have taken down illegal signs. He said many that have not complied were hoping to get exemptions. He said the McMahan's sign "is considered a benchmark by some" in determining which illegal signs may remain.
Douglas B. Kays, McMahan's attorney, had argued that, if the store had signs conforming to the ordinance, they would be blocked by trees, a bus shelter and other obstacles in front of the building. He called the matter "an issue of rationality."
Reduced Speed Limit
In another matter before the council, a series of traffic-safety measures and a reduced speed limit were proposed for the Chevy Chase Canyon area after a number of traffic accidents and complaints from more than 400 residents.
The council accepted a recommendation by city traffic engineers to reduce the speed limit on Chevy Chase Drive east of the Glendale Freeway from 35 m.p.h. to 25 m.p.h. and called for increased enforcement of the limit.
The lower speed limit will take effect May 31 after the council adopts an ordinance next week.