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Businesses Urge City Council to Approve Signage Plan : Thousand Oaks: The proposal calls for installing service information near freeway off-ramps. Officials will consider the issue Tuesday.


To help boost the local economy, Thousand Oaks business leaders are urging the City Council to approve a plan to install signs near freeway exits directing motorists to service stations, restaurants and hotels.

"We've been pushing for something like this for 10 years," said Steve Rubenstein, president of the Chamber of Commerce. "The way our city is designed, it's so difficult to see businesses from the highway."

But Councilman Frank Schillo said that there are already such signs along the Ventura Freeway and that he doesn't see any need for additional signs cluttering city streets. Schillo said he is also concerned because the proposed signs would exclude other businesses.

"My feeling is that if you start putting signs up, there's no end to it," Schillo said. "I understand signs are very important to businesses. I'm very much in favor of signage. But when you start putting up signs here, there and everywhere, then things get all cluttered up."

The proposal, which the council will consider at its meeting Tuesday night, calls for installing a dozen service signs near off-ramps along the Ventura and Moorpark freeways. Three of the metal placards would be tacked beneath existing road signs.

The new signs would resemble the symbol signs used by the state Department of Transportation. Instead of words, the signs use symbols--a gas pump, a knife and fork, and a bed--to direct motorists.

"They're very necessary because when you get off the freeway and you're from out of the area, it can be difficult to find specific services," Rubenstein said, adding that the signs would be tasteful and unobtrusive.

As for the exclusion of other businesses, "it's unfortunate we can't list them all, but it's a start," Rubenstein said. He noted that efforts are being made to draft new sign guidelines that would allow strip shopping centers to replace monument signs with more prominent directory boards.

In the meantime, the new service signs would be a great help to businesses hurting from the recession, said Gary Heathcote, a member of chamber's board of trustees.

"In these economic times, I think it's important for the council to show in a strong way that it is looking to help local businesses," he said.

Mayor Elois Zeanah has said she strongly supports the new service signs.

"Let's see if we can install those immediately," Zeanah said during a discussion of the issue in June. "Since we already have small freeway signs saying, 'Gas, Food and Lodging,' let's make the directions complete and help our local businesses."

Councilwoman Jaime Zukowski said she favors replacing outdated service signs along the Ventura Freeway and installing new placards on the Moorpark Freeway to help point motorists in the direction of gas stations, restaurants and hotels.

But Zukowski said she has reservations about adding more signs near freeway exits. She said motorists driving through the city can safely assume that if they get off at any of the exits, they will be likely to find the services they need.

Zukowski said she wants to consult with city planning officials before deciding whether to back the proposal for new signs.

Adding more signs might be "too much of a good thing," she said. "They could end up all over the place."

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