SOUTH GATE — The City Council is scheduled Tuesday to consider a zoning amendment that would require businesses to use English-language and Roman-lettered signs. However, because of public reaction to the proposal, the city's principal planner has recommended that the council return it to the Planning Commission for "further study and review."
Planner Valdis V. Pavlovskis said he and his staff had received four or five calls from citizens who wanted to know the reason for the English-language requirement.
Because of this concern, Pavlovskis said, he has recommended that the City Council return the proposed amendment to the Planning Commission "so they can have another look at it."
"When we considered the ordinance originally we had practically no input from the public," Pavlovskis said. "But since a (newspaper) article appeared about it, there is now some concern by citizens who want to discuss the ordinance. We want it back so that we can receive additional input from citizens."
Planners originally had proposed the ordinance because of concern about the proliferation of Spanish-language signs in the city, planning aide Aubrey D. Fenderson said. There had been concern that police and firefighters could not identify businesses in emergencies.
Mayor William De Witt said this was the first he had heard of any controversy concerning the proposed ordinance, but he said he would be unable to support it the way it is currently worded.
"I have some serious concerns about passing an ordinance that requires English-only," De Witt said. "We have a number of Spanish-named businesses that have been around for a long time with the same name and the police and Fire Department would have no trouble finding them in an emergency."
Mayor Pro Tem John F. Sheehy said he had received many comments from people who said they did not know what some of the businesses were, because they could not understand the sign. "I think an ordinance like this would be appropriate," Sheehy said.
Council member Del Snavely said no one had contacted him about the ordinance. "I don't think there is too much concern in the city about it and I haven't given it much thought. I don't know how I will vote yet."
If the City Council sends the matter back to the commission, another public hearing would be held at the next meeting of the commissioners on Nov. 19, giving residents an opportunity to speak, Pavlovskis said.
"The Planning Commission will probably settle the matter that day and send it back to the City Council for their Dec. 9 meeting," Pavlovskis said. "They will hold at least two more public hearings on it, before deciding whether they are going to adopt it or modify it. If they want changes made, it will have to come back to the Planning Commission."
The City Council will meet Tuesday at 8 p.m. instead of at the regular time, 7 p.m.