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City Delays Ruling on Freeway Business Signs : Thousand Oaks: Council members aren't sure if the placards would help firms or just clutter the streets.

September 29, 1993|CARLOS V. LOZANO | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Worried that city streets could become cluttered with signs, the Thousand Oaks City Council on Tuesday postponed a decision on whether to install placards near major freeway interchanges directing motorists to local businesses.

Council members said they wanted more information to determine whether the signs would actually benefit businesses, or if they would simply clutter up city streets.

"We are all concerned about the visual impacts," said Mayor Elois Zeanah, who favors the sign measure.

The proposal calls for installing a dozen signs near off-ramps along the Ventura and Moorpark freeways, pointing motorists toward service stations, restaurants and hotels. Three of the metal placards would be tacked on beneath existing road signs.

Local business leaders have been pushing for more visible signs for years. They said the proposed measure would go a long way toward helping recession-starved businesses.

But Councilmen Alex Fiore and Frank Schillo said such signs already exist on the Ventura Freeway and questioned the need for additional ones.

"If you have a sign on the freeway that says 'Gas, Food, Lodging, Next Exit,' I don't think people will have a problem finding those services," Fiore said.

Zeanah said she supports installing the new signs if it can be shown that they will not add to the visual clutter on city streets. She asked that a prototype of the proposed signs be brought back to the council for consideration.

The signs proposed by businesses would be similar to those used by the California Department of Transportation. Instead of words, the signs use symbols--a gas pump, a knife and fork, and a bed--to direct motorists.

Zeanah said she recently helped the Econo Lodge get a directional sign on Rancho Road after the manager convinced her that motorists exiting the nearby Ventura Freeway did not know the motel was there.

"You can't see it from the freeway," Zeanah said.

Nadine Xander, manager of the Econo Lodge, said the sign has lured more customers to the hotel. "I've asked several of my guests and they said they have seen the sign," she said. "So it really has helped. We're really happy about it and we'd like to see other signs go up."

The mayor said she would support installing additional signs near freeway interchanges if it can be shown that they will lure more customers to city businesses.

"I think we have a responsibility to see what we can do to help local businesses," she said.

Councilwoman Jaime Zukowski said she wanted to solicit opinions from the city's Planning Department and the Community Development Agency on whether the signs would detract from the city's beauty.

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