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Thousand Oaks Officials to Consider Relaxing Tough Restrictions on Business Signs

Advertising: Entrepreneurs have long sought to erect larger, more diverse displays than the city now allows.

June 06, 1996|MIGUEL BUSTILLO | TIMES STAFF WRITER

THOUSAND OAKS — Responding to complaints from businesses that the city's existing sign ordinance was hurting them, the City Council has asked city officials to analyze Thousand Oaks' tough sign restrictions.

The Mayor's Business Roundtable had asked the council to form a committee to study amending the Thousand Oaks sign ordinance, long a source of frustration for local entrepreneurs. Council members on Tuesday opted to have city staff explore the issue and come back to them with a report before deciding whether to take any action.

Among the changes the round table is lobbying for are doubling the maximum size for a monument sign from 48 to 96 square feet and allowing such signs to be up to 12 feet high. It is also asking for Thousand Oaks to allow more diverse types of signs, particularly strip mall directories, which currently have to display all tenant names in the same color and size.

The sign debate has been kicking around Thousand Oaks for years, yet never seems to go away, despite numerous efforts by the council to find a balance between the concerns of businesses and managed growth advocates.

Dozens of small business owners and strip mall landlords, mainly along Thousand Oaks Boulevard, have long complained that city sign restrictions were excessive and prevented businesses from attracting customers.

But for just as long, some residents have countered that loosening sign restrictions could lead to visual pollution in the increasingly busy commercial sections of Thousand Oaks, with businesses erecting ostentatious signs in an attempt to outdo each other.

Numerous city-organized committees have already discussed the topic, and council members have made concessions in recent years. For example, free-standing directory signs for strip malls were not permitted until two years ago. But council members said Tuesday that judging from the continued complaints by local business owners, the problem is far from solved.

The round table believes that the monument signs currently allowed in Thousand Oaks "do not accomplish their aim of adequately identifying business," according to a report the group submitted to the City Council. The round table meets regularly with the Thousand Oaks mayor to discuss the needs and concerns of the city's entrepreneurs.

The 6-foot height of signs currently allowed causes them to often be blocked by parked cars because they are so low to the ground. Such signs can only feature a few colors and configurations, thereby preventing some businesses from even displaying their complete names and logos, the report states.

Another concern among Thousand Oaks business owners, according to the report, is that the current sign ordinance prevents strip mall owners from featuring the names of some of their tenants more prominently than others.

Owners of shopping centers want to be able to display some tenant names in larger type or in different colors than others, arguing that some tenants have bigger locations, and that others are farther from the road and need more exposure to be successful.

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