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City Removes Illegal Housing Signs

April 24, 1993|JOHN CHANDLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

PALMDALE — City crews Friday began tearing down the first of as many as 183 illegal signs advertising new home tracts, signaling a crackdown in the city's on-again, off-again enforcement of its sign laws.

The crackdown was initiated because few developers have complied with a compromise measure passed by the City Council last month. The new rules allow the signs as long as developers apply for city permits and abide by restrictions on size and where they can be installed.

Now city officials plan to begin removing all illegal signs.

"What we're hoping is when the builders see we're serious, they'll go and pick up their signs," said Molly Bogh, city planning director.

City workers hauled away five billboards Friday and plan to continue the process next week.

The new home signs, typically 8-by-4-foot billboards, were outlawed by the city in September, 1990. But because of the recession, city officials did not attempt to enforce the ban until November. Builders protested and finally reached last month's compromise with the city.

Even if builders apply for permission, however, Mike Morrisey--Palmdale's senior code enforcement officer--estimated that more than half of the 183 home tract billboards he tallied last month will have to be removed because they do not meet the guidelines.

City officials said owners of the remaining billboards can either follow the sign regulations and pay the city a fee of $300 per tract and $20 per sign, or pay $40 per sign to cover the cost of removing them.

The city's sign guidelines do not permit mini-billboards in residents' yards, closer than 100 feet apart or for any portion to intrude on roadways. They cannot be more than 10 feet high or 32 square feet in area.

New home tracts in central city areas can have up to three signs each, while those in more remote areas can apply for five signs.

The council authorized the crackdown Monday. Bogh said only seven of 44 new home tracts in the city had applied for city sign permits during the first month of the compromise program.

The Antelope Valley's Building Industry Assn., which represents home builders, supported the permitting system and encouraged its members to comply. Builders this week told the city that they needed more time, but did not argue for a change in the permitting system.

Antelope Valley home builders have long argued that they need the billboard-type signs to lead motorists to their projects, particularly during tough economic times. But some city officials and residents have complained that proliferation of the signs has created visual blight in the community.

Antelope Valley home sales last year were up 14.4% over 1991.

Of the five signs removed Friday, three were larger than the guidelines' standard, including one that was 12-by-16 feet. One was in a homeowner's back yard and another was too close to other signs.

A similar crackdown last fall rid the city of smaller stick signs posted by developers on weekends, which also are illegal.

Antelope Valley New Home Sales

MONTH 1991 1992 % CHANGE January 93 128 +37.6 February 101 125 +23.8 March 114 183 +60.5 April 157 177 +12.7 May 164 162 -0.1 June 193 193 -- July 188 166 -11.7 August 174 195 +12.1 September 169 196 +16.0 October 167 187 +12.0 November 160 190 +18.8 December 149 190 +27.5 TOTAL 1,829 2,092 +14.4

Source: Antelope Valley Board of Trade

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