After 10 years of discussion among merchants and city officials, the La Canada City Council on Monday tentatively approved an ordinance to regulate signs.
The ordinance will not significantly alter the kind of signs allowed by the city, but rather will put into legal form a set of guidelines set up when the city was incorporated 11 years ago.
Like the guidelines it replaces, the ordinance limits the type and size of signs permitted. It outlaws garishly lighted and oversized signs, including billboards and rooftop displays. It also prohibits most neon signs and pole signs.
Approval Expected Nov. 2
The council is expected to give final approval to the ordinance at its next meeting Nov. 2.
If adopted, the sign ordinance will go into effect 30 days later.
City officials said the ordinance would make it simpler for merchants whose signs meet its guidelines to obtain permits to build in the city, and at the same time make it easier for city officials to enforce those guidelines.
Under the existing system, an architectural board reviews plans for each new sign, using the guidelines for reference.
If the City Council adopts the sign ordinance, merchants whose signs comply would be exempt from appearing before the review board.
Old Process Called Weak
"From both sides, the old process was a weak system, because it was voluntary and really didn't have the teeth of an ordinance," Community Development Director Bill Campbell said. "It was both too cumbersome and it didn't give the applicant any clear set of standards."
Chamber of Commerce President Dan McGregor, who acted as liaison between merchants and city officials in discussions on the new ordinance, said he was generally satisfied with its form, but objected during the meeting to several minor points.
"There are a lot of people in the business community who don't feel that they should have signs controlled at all," McGregor said. "But most people realize there probably should be some controls and we're recommending controls that would allow their businesses to succeed."
The architectural review board, appointed by the city Planning Commission and made up of local architects, landscape architects, business people and residents, will continue to exist and to hear applications for nonconforming signs.