City stalls on adopting city sign ordinance

OCEANSIDE — City Council delayed making a decision to adopt the California Coastal Commission’s modifications to its proposed city sign ordinance amendments.

Most City Council members at the May 28 meeting said they needed more information.

Some even questioned if the Coastal Commission was over stepping its boundaries my making modifications that clarify the city ordinance and ensure environmental safeguards.

Coastal Commission recommendations ask that no billboards be relocated to the coastal zone, and more specific parameters be put on storefront digital signage, which includes digital menu boards and event notice boards.

The goal of the proposed sign ordinance amendments were to create more uniform sign regulations throughout the city.

Differences still remain in what is permitted in the coastal zone, due to statewide coastal regulations that protect public views and community character. No billboards are allowed, and light from signage is restricted in the coastal zone.

The Coastal Commission requested that these restrictions be clearly spelled out in the city ordinance.

John Helmer, Oceanside downtown area manager, pointed out where more clarification is needed.

“Development standards were not included,” Helmer said.

“The Coastal Commission did not want existing billboards to be relocated within the coastal zone.”

While the City Council had no issue in stating billboard are not allowed in the coastal zone, defining parameters for digital storefront signs caused approval to be delayed.

Councilwoman Esther Sanchez, who serves on the Coastal Commission, agreed with the commission’s recommendations.

“Lighting is a significant coastal issue,” Sanchez said. “Modifications are pretty clear.”

Carolyn Krammer, chairwoman of Oceanside’s Citizens for the Preservation of Parks and Beaches, wrote a letter to the Coastal Commission stating that the proposed ordinance would result in significant impacts.

Others residents spoke in favor of allowing digital storefront signs at the City Council meeting.

Kim Heim, director of special projects for MainStreet Oceanside, said it is important to move forward with the sign ordinance and include digital technology.

City council began making revisions to its 1992 sign ordinance in 2012. Large digital billboards were addressed in April 2012.

At that time city council approved adding four billboards in non-coastal zones with the understanding current and future billboards could go digital.

Specifics on billboard placement, digital message dwell time, sign brightness, and hours of lit digital display were spelled out. Specifics included spacing billboards 1,000-feet apart, and requiring messages to have a minimum of a 4-second dwell time.

Digital storefront signs were not given specific perimeters.

Sign ordinance amendments will come back to city council for approval after staff has reworded the ordinance to comply with the Coastal Commission’s recommendations.



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