One of the sign casualties might be the A-frame signs that small businesses put up along Main Street and elsewhere to let passing motorists know they are there. A proposed sign ordinance discussed at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting would ban A-frame signs, which disturbs Councilman Bruce Connelley.
“I understand they can be a nuisance quite often,” he said. “But there’s a time and place for using them, I believe. And we can determine the cosmetics of these signs. But to totally prohibit A-frame signs will have a significant impact on some of the small businesses. To totally prohibit them is not being business-friendly, in my opinion. I can get some (business) friends who will agree to that.”
The Oakley Chamber of Commerce was consulted on the draft sign ordinance, according to Senior Planner Joshua McMurray, who drafted it. No business owners spoke at Tuesday’s workshop either for or against the new regulations.
Connelley said he agreed with making sure the A-frame signs look professionally designed, like the barber shop sign on Main Street near Kinko’s advertising $12 haircuts. He also is willing to limit A-frame signs to be displayed only when the business is open.
But other council members weren’t as enthusiastic about A-frame signs. Councilman Kevin Romick asked Connelley why they are necessary. Connelley responded that some businesses are recessed from Main Street or not readily visible to passing motorists, such as the flower shop at O’Hara Avenue and Main Street.
“If they have a flower special, they put out a sign,” he said. “You can’t see them unless you turn your head as you go into that sharp turn. They said if they couldn’t (put out a sign) it would cost them a lot of money.”
Romick said the problem is in knowing where to draw the line: “My concern is: What if everybody in a shopping center decides they were not getting the notoriety they were looking for, and you had 15 of these things lined up right after the other? How do you regulate it? (Do you say) only one person or two people in the shopping center can have an A-frame? Twelve or 15 in a row doesn’t look good.”
Councilman Jim Frazier pointed out that the “barber shop $12” A-frame sign is actually sitting right in front of a larger, kiosk-type sign listing the barber shop as one of the businesses in the Main Street Shops center. “It’s double advertising there,” he said, adding that A-frames might need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Mayor Carol Rios suggested that the city find ways to help businesses fund kiosk signs so that they are all listed on one large sign rather than in numerous smaller signs. The proposed sign ordinance emphasizes moving much of the city’s signage to kiosks that might also provide information on how to get to City Hall or the Oakley Library.
The council also agreed to impose a three-year limit on existing signs that are not on the business owner’s property, such as real estate signs, before they need to follow the new regulations.
“It could take years, but when you look at the community as a whole seven or eight years from now, how different would the community look?” said City Manager Bryan Montgomery. “It would be a huge improvement. Let’s move toward eliminating those off-site signs.”
The council did not take action on the proposed ordinance Tuesday night, but is expected to do so at an upcoming meeting.