Tired of billboards cluttered along Main Street, the City Council consulted with city staff last week to create a kiosk program, an amendment to the new sign ordinance adopted by the city last year, in which developers would be able to buy panels on kiosk signs placed throughout the city to direct potential home buyers to new developments.
Mayor Pat Anderson said the kiosks offer a more professional appearance, and eliminate the “visual blight” once commonplace in the city when dozens of billboards lined public roadways.
“I want to limit signs,” Anderson said. “I know our real estate people don’t want to hear that, but I think we have lived through some pretty horrendous times when every time you went around a corner there were 20 different signs.”
David Best, a representative from Shea Homes, said he shared the council’s vision for the kiosks, but stressed that billboard signs are still needed to communicate special promotions and establish corporate identity within the community.
“As long as the kiosk program doesn’t prohibit other signage from being erected at the discretion of staff under a particular signage ordinance in the city, then I think we’re OK,” Best told the council. “If this is meant to completely replace any other type of advertising, then it might be a bit of a struggle for the developing community.”
Best’s comments prompted Councilmember Carol Rios to ask, “So where would you envision these billboards?” But before Best could answer, Anderson took the question a step further: “Where we’ve already decided we don’t want them?”
Best told the council that billboard signs are effective advertising tools that worked well during the housing boom in the past decade, but he expressed a willingness to work with the city to find a compromise.
Still to be determined are the number of kiosks and their locations. The city planning department envisions 10 kiosks, but Councilmember Bruce Connelley suggested establishing a preliminary limit that might be evaluated at a later time. Vice Mayor Jim Frazier urged that the kiosk be used for directional purposes only, and that if developers are concerned about marketing their brands, billboard signs might be permissible only at the entrance of the development.
Regardless of location, size and panel limits, the city won’t pay for these signs. Sign companies would obtain permits from the city to establish kiosks and then rent panel space to developers.
An updated version of the kiosk program will return to the council later this year.