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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sign Ordinance Revised

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Santee City Council has adopted new regulations aimed at reducing visual clutter in Santee’s commercial retail areas and transportation corridors.

The new regulations, which were crafted to give businesses flexibility in using signage to attract customers, will go into effect June 10.

“The intent is to clarify the regulations, make them easier to enforce, and to reduce the visual chaos of excessive signage along our major streets and freeways,” said Santee Planning Director Melanie Kush. “The goal is to balance the needs of the business community with aesthetic considerations.”

One significant change is that businesses located along the newly completed extension of State Route 52 are allowed to add new wall signage targeting freeway traffic. That option would have been difficult to exercise under the the previous regulations.

The city plans to obtain compliance by explaining and discussing the new rules with business owners, as opposed to issuing a flurry of code enforcement notifications.

“We prefer to take an educational approach rather than a punitive one,” said Kush, noting that the sign ordinance was last changed in 1998. “We’re working with the local Chamber of Commerce to help get the word out to the business community.”

The revised ordinance limits the number, size and duration of signs advertising a special event, such as a sale or grand opening.

Most of the restrictions in the new ordinance focus on the use of banners or other types of “temporary” signs. Key changes include:

  • Businesses may put up one temporary sign no larger than 40 square feet for each street frontage. Temporary signs may be used for up to 30 consecutive days per event, but for no longer than 90 days total per year.
  • New businesses may put up a temporary name-identification banner for up to 60 days after opening to allow time for permanent signage to be installed.
  • Temporary signs advertising public and community events are limited to 60 square feet and may not be displayed longer than 30 consecutive days. Such signs must be removed within 7 days of the event.
The new ordinance still allows businesses to display balloons, banners, flag and other attention-grabbing devices. However, if such displays contain any text, such as the name or logo of the business, they are now considered signs, and therefore are subject to the new size and duration limits.

Existing rules governing permanent signs, the size of which are based on building frontage, remain unchanged except for businesses facing the freeway. The revised ordinance allows businesses located near freeways to erect signs that are visible to freeway traffic. Businesses with a regionwide customer base, such as shopping centers and auto dealerships, may be allowed to erect a freestanding freeway-oriented sign up to 15 feet in height. Businesses may request a Conditional Use Permit to erect a taller sign up to 15 feet above the elevation of the freeway, but no taller than 50 feet.

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