City streamlines regulations, nixes billboards

OCEANSIDE — Zoning regulations will now be a bit easier for developers to navigate after the City Council unanimously gave final approval on Aug. 10 to repeal 23 1986 zoning articles, and amend eight 1992 zoning articles.

Many of the changes updated wording that referred to the former city planning director, which is no longer a position, and renamed responsibility to the city planner.

In addition to streamlining development regulations, sandwiched within the repeals and amendments, were changes to the city sign ordinance that will now no longer allow digital billboards or additional static billboards.

Oceanside initially OK’d digital billboards on city property as revenue producers in May 2012. Councilwoman Esther Sanchez was the only vote against. Yes votes came from Mayor Jim Wood, Councilman Jerry Kern, and then Councilman Gary Felien. Councilman Jack Feller was absent.

A proposed digital billboard along state Route 78 was defeated in June 2015 in a 3-2 vote. Sanchez, Feller and Councilman Chuck Lowery voted not to allow it. Wood and Kern were in support of allowance. Current city zoning modifications for development and signs were introduced this June in a 4-0 vote, in which Wood abstained.

Feller said he changed his mind about digital billboards this year after a survey of residents did not show strong support. Prior to that he was on the fence.

“I won’t support any more billboards of any kind,” Feller said. “I did not receive one phone call or email contact saying these are such a great idea.”

Wood changed his vote last Wednesday, but said he still has not changed his opinion. Wood continues to believe digital billboards on city property are a good revenue source. He also expressed concern about possible lawsuits from the three sign companies that were approved to negotiate with the city. Wood said his yes vote last week was because he supports all other zoning modifications in the bundle. He added he does not think it would have changed the outcome of the vote to have discussed his point of view on billboards.

“The voting majority said no, it’s one of those things, why battle it?” Wood asked.

Prior to the City Council’s vote several residents thanked council members for drawing a line and not allowing digital billboards. Since initial approval of digital billboards in 2012, residents have opposed billboards for the blight, driver distraction and light interference they could bring.

Zoning modifications to nix digital billboards were passed, and will go into effect.

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