The City Council decided during Tuesday’s meeting to offer workshops instead of forming a Sign Code Advisory Committee to discuss sign code regulations for local businesses.
Council members were disappointed with the number of business owners who applied to the proposed committee, which the council had directed staff to move forward at the March 15 meeting. As of April 25, 15 people applied to join the committee, 14 of which were not current business owners. Originally, the council had wanted five to seven committee members to evaluate the city’s current sign regulations and provide recommendations on changes.
“In looking at the applicants that we had, I think we’re all a little disappointed at the number of applicants that we had for our committee,” Councilwoman Merrilee Boyack said.
The decision to form the committee was made after local business people expressed their frustration with the city's current sign code regulations at a January business summit.
“I was just a little bit disappointed,” Councilman Dave Grosch said. “We had three business meetings and the number one issue always was signs and signs and signs, yet no one volunteered, or very few volunteered.”
Boyack said she believes business owners will participate in workshops, because many participated in the business summit. She added that all committee applicants will receive invitations to participate in the workshops “so they do know that their voices are going to be heard."
“I think some people were shying away from this because it sounded like a long-term commitment for a committee, and I think they’re busy just trying to have their businesses survive.”
Before the city council opted for workshops instead of a committee, local business owner Kevin McNamara offered his input on the city’s current sign regulations.
Although he said the current rules for Poway Business Park are fine, he recommended the city council update the rules along Poway Road.
“I know a lot about the hurdles business owners and tenants go through,” said McNamara, who owns Old Poway Village and several commercial properties in the city. “Some of the problems is inexperience; some of it is the current rules.”
McNamara said the rules on most of the monuments are “old and tired” and that the city needs new regulations. He said the current rules don’t allow enough space to put a tenant’s name on monuments.
He also said that the regulations on sign colors are too restrictive. Currently, rules allow three colors and white, he said. He recommended the rules be changed to allow five colors and white.
He added that the size of signs should be increased and business owners should be allowed to place an extra sign on the side of their building.
“A little flexibility gives us a lot more ability to be creative and make our centers more interesting to the eye,” McNamara said.
McNamara did argue against the use of flags, placards and spinners.
“They’re nothing more than distractions,” he said. “If you let the camel get their nose under the tent, you’ll never get order back on Poway Road.”
At the end of his presentation, McNamara offered to work with staff, along with a sign designer and a broker to make changes to the city’s sign regulations that would be “more business friendly and still consistent with the spirit of Poway.”
“I’d like to make my Poway Valley Center as good as I can, but the city constrains us from doing that,” he said. “The same is true for the entire length of Poway Road. Let’s work on it and try to make Poway Road as good as we can.”
After the council decided to offer workshops instead, Councilman Jim Cunningham asked McNamara to create a report that would be used to “kick-off” ideas at the workshops.
All council members and City Manager Penny Riley agreed that workshops would offer more people an opportunity to share their opinions and suggestions.
“We’d like to have a more inclusive process and hope to touch base with multiple people,” Riley said.
In other council business:
- After much debate, the City Council adopted a resolution that approves the establishment of a commercial auto body shop on Gregg Street.
- The council adopted a resolution that allows St. John of Damascus Orthodox Church two more years to expand its location. The expansion project consists of a 6,500-square-foot addition and other site improvements. The council initially approved the project in May 2009.
- The council opted to continue the review of the city’s Code of Ethics in 90 days.