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Sidewalk signs get commission OK

Approval by council would upend a 50-year prohibition.

September 23, 2011|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com
  • Glendale could lift a longtime ban on A-frame signs in front of storefronts in districts like Kenneth Village, above. (File photo)
Glendale could lift a longtime ban on A-frame signs in…

Planning commissioners this week recommended lifting a 50-year ban on sidewalk signs for businesses, but not before attaching size restrictions, a $100-fee and a requirement for $1 million in liability insurance.

The Planning Commission voted 3-0 Wednesday to recommend that the City Council lift the ban, which has been unpopular with many business owners. They contend that during tough economic times, they need the signs and their advertising value more than ever.

The signs were banned because they were considered “visual clutter that would not benefit the look of the city,” according to a city staff report.

Yet some merchants have continued to use them.

“Glendale, essentially since 1956 and probably ever, has never allowed portable signs by right in the city, nevertheless merchants have had them in various forms in multiple parts of the city,” said Senior Planner Jeff Hamilton.

Under the proposed rule change, business owners downtown, or those in a recognized merchants association or business improvement district, would be allowed to place one 4-foot sign in the public right of way. Stores in mini-malls would still not be able to deploy the signs.

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Before putting out the signs, business owners would need to present a design plan to the city showing the type of sign and where it would be placed, pay a fee and show proof of insurance.

Currently, code enforcement officials either issue a notice of violation or take the signs away. Hamilton said unpermitted signs could still be removed under the proposed changes, but that would be a last resort.

If business owners continued to break the sign rules, they could receive a citation and fine, he added.

Business leaders said the strict regulations were necessary to maintain a nice aesthetic and restrict clutter.

“If there aren’t any rules and regulations, it’s going to look like a swap meet,” said Alyce Russell, president of the Montrose Shopping Park Assn., adding that signs were necessary to boost business.

Karin Nicholson, president of the Kenneth Village Merchants Assn., echoed that sentiment.

“For us here at Kenneth Village, at first we were a little mixed about it,” Nicholson said. “I believe that most of the merchants and the [association] board were in agreement it would be a good thing.”

The City Council is scheduled to review the matter Oct. 4.

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