By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Planning continues talks on sign ordinance
Under the proposed changes to the sign ordinance, all flag signs would be banned from use in Turlock. - photo by Journal file photo

For the past several years, the City of Turlock has been working on updating its sign ordinance, which was originally adopted in 1944. After Thursday's Planning Commission workshop, 2016 is looking like the year that the updated ordinance will finally make its way to the City Council for final approval.

Deputy Director of Development Services Debra Whitmore presented draft versions of Sign Standards for Retail Uses and Freestanding Signs to the Planning Commissioners, who voiced their approval of the tentative regulations.

The proposed standards are based on a blend of what is currently used by the Monte Vista Crossings and Countryside Plaza, two successful sign programs already adopted in Turlock.

The draft standards define sign band rather than sign height. The sign band could not be wider than 70 percent or taller than 85 percent of the portion of the facade on which the sign would be mounted. Logos would be allowed to be slightly larger than letter sizes, however.

Sign area would be based on length of the sides of the building that face onto a street. Sign area would be calculated per street frontage, and only that one street frontage.

Letter height in the proposed standards starts at 2 feet for a retail business 2,500 square feet for below and ranges to 6 feet for a business that is 100,000 square feet for above.

Secondary signs would be allowed for larger tenants and limited in number and by sign area.

The Freestanding Sign standards includes categories for:

·         Single Retail Tenant Monument: One per street frontage, with a sign band maximum of 6 feet and up to 50 square feet of sign area per side;

·          Shopping Center Multi-tenant Monument Sign: One sign per frontage for entire center; when frontage is greater than 1,000 feet, one additional sign can be place at least 300 feet apart, 10 feet maximum height of sign band, with each tenant receiving 18 inches in height, and up to 100 square feet of sign area per side;

·         Center Identification Sign: One per street frontage in addition to tenant monument signs, maximum of 4 feet in height of sign band, and up to 50 square feet per side.

Other proposed changes include banning all flag signs and sign spinners, prohibited all commercial signs within the public right-of-way (medians, telephone poles, sidewalks), allowing for individualized master sign programs and creating variances for visual impediments, or for signs that have historic, cultural or iconic value, or enhance tourism and promote the City of Turlock.

Signs placed in the public right-of-way currently violate the City Ordinance and are a big issue for the City of Turlock Neighborhood Services Department, according to Fire Marshal Mark Gomez.

Neighborhood Services staff removed 3,505 snipe signs — temporary signs posted to trees, utility poles, fences, posts or other support structures —in 2014, and 2,930 signs as of Nov. 30 of this year.

Gomez said he'd like to see all signs be banned from public right-of-ways and not just commercial signs.

Enforcement has long been an issue when it comes to the sign ordinance and something Planning Commission Chair Soraya Fregosi would like to see addressed.

"We've been working on this so long, at the end of this we have to have an enforcement situation," she said.

While significant progress was made on updating the sign ordinance, City staff is still working on drafts of logo sign standards, secondary signage allowances, signage for pad tenants that face into a center as well as street frontage, freeway-oriented signs, sign standards for office, industrial and institutional uses and temporary and promotional signs.

The draft versions of Sign Standards for Retail Uses and Freestanding Signs will be distributed to the Turlock Chamber of Commerce and individual businesses for review.

"We're hoping we'll get some feedback from the business community if this is good or bad for them," said Whitmore.

The Planning Commission will next hold a public workshop on the sign ordinance at 6 p.m. Jan. 7, 2016 in the Yosemite Room of City Hall, 156 S. Broadway. A joint Planning Commission and City Council meeting will be held Jan. 26.

Individuals can send comments to the Planning Department by emailing, calling 668-5640 or mailing in their feedback to: City of Turlock Planning Division, 156 S. Broadway, Turlock, Ca. 95380-5454.