What may be considered normal advertisement to some local business owners may actually be a city code violation. Many businesses don't realize that there are a large percentage of signs throughout the City of Turlock that are or will soon be considered illegal, including sign spinners, flags and banners.
At Thursday's Turlock Planning Commission meeting, Deputy Director of Developmental Services Debbie Whitmore hosted an informational workshop on restructuring the current sign ordinance to fit local needs. Whitmore and the Planning Commission have been using the City of Rancho Cucamonga's sign ordinance as an example after recommendations by the Turlock Chamber of Commerce.
Though a sign regulation reform is in process, local business representatives are nowhere to be found, leaving the task in the commissioners' hands to decide to the city's new sign ordinance.
"We want businesses to give us their feedback," said Planning Vice Chair Soraya Fregosi. "I don't feel as if we are shooting in the dark, but there is an absence here that needs to be filled."
The workshop highlighted signs that are commonly seen on city streets, such as temporary signs, mobile signs, promotional signs, and issues with regulation enforcement. Common seen advertisements, such as sign spinners, A-frames, and feather signs are currently considered dangerous and are illegal.
Newly appointed commissioner Alice Pollard related a story in which hand held signs raised up by sticks would be fashioned into spears once a melee had broken out. Shortly after hearing this story, the commissioners considered no longer allowing these types of signs. Spinner signs were also discussed as being extremely hazardous to individuals.
"Sign spinners often do things that don't make a lot of sense," said Whitmore. "They can create dangerous situations in order to gain attention of passing motorists. They are typically located at the front of the property, city sidewalks, and detract from permanent signage on buildings. One of the issues may be is it fair to allow this type of signage when a wall signage must be paid for? Right now, we have people not complying with the current ordinance, and a number of businesses are doing it."
Most cities currently prohibit commercial signs in the public right of way or are largely limited due to fears about infringing on free speech. Exceptions are generally made for community activities, such as a Christmas Parade for public purpose.
Rancho Cucamonga's sign ordinance is similar to Turlock's existing ordinance but includes more in depth standards, design guidelines, and does not allow any commercial items in the public right of way. These proposals may turn into procedures in the near future.
"We are open to suggestions, but they must always come prepared with rational standards," said Whitmore.
Also on Thursday, the Planning Commission:
• Unanimously approved the 2012 General Plan Implementation Report, which requires that an annual report on the Implementation of the General Plan be submitted to the legislative body.
• Approved the proposed 2013/2014 Public Works Projects as in conformance with the Turlock General Plan.
• Authorized the applicant of the Conditional Use Permit 13-01 (Days Inn Multi-Tenant Sign) to push back his public hearing for May 2.
• Supported Deanna Davenport of Hughson's 20th Century Arts and Crafts Club, and her wish to recycle election boards for the Hughson High School Art Department.
• Sworn in Alice Pollard as the newest Planning Commissioner.
• Recognized Victor Pedroza with a plaque commemorating his long held position as a Planning Commissioner.