Land Use CommitteeCouncil Present:
October 13, 2010
7:00 – 7:50 a.m.
Chair, Cynthia Pratt, Tom Nelson, Virgil Clarkson
Greg Cuoio, Ken Ahlf, Rick Walk, Scott Spence, Scott Egger, Troy Woo, Carol Litten Deputy Mayor Clarkson moved to approve agenda. Mayor Nelson seconded. Motion carried. Review of Non-Conforming Sign Provisions
Rick Walk, Community Development Director, presented the Committee with a proposal to add the review of LMC 16.75.140.B “Abatement” to the Planning Commission work program to consider other alternatives to bring non-conforming signs into compliance prior to enforcing the abatement provisions. Possible alternatives include extending the date for conformance, removal of the abatement provisions and rely on conformance through redevelopment.
The City’s sign ordinance defines non-conforming signs as signs that do not meet the current sign ordinance standards for height, size, placement (wall, monument, awning, directional, etc). Signs that are most commonly recognized as non-conforming are free standing (pole) signs. Pole signs have been prohibited since amendment of the sign ordinance in 1997.
The intent behind the prohibition of pole signs is to preserve and improve the appearance of the city; and, to encourage sound signing practices as an aid to business and for public information but to prevent excessive and confusing signing displays.
There are three methods to bring non-conforming signs into conformance. 1) A sign will be brought into conformance if it is structurally altered in height, size, shape or the base/support is modified. 2) A non-conforming sign must be removed if the business or activity is enlarged, remodeled or changes in a manner that requires Site Plan Review Approval. 3) All non-conforming signs must be brought into conformance this year as required by the abatement provisions of LMC 16.5.140.B.
Since 1997, several non-conforming signs have been converted to conforming monument or wall signs as businesses have updated their signage and voluntarily removed their existing signs. In addition, many non-conforming signs have been removed through the site plan review process as properties expanded or redeveloped. These two methods have been successful in reducing the overall number of non-conforming signs through actions of the property owner to improve their property.
To encourage the replacement of non-conforming signs with conforming signs—specifically the replacement of pole signs with monument signs—the City established a grant program that would pay $2,000 per sign (not to exceed a total of $10,000 in a year) to bring the signage into conformance. Only one business took advantage of the incentive. The program ended in 2007.
Even though the abatement provision in the City’s sign ordinance was established in 1997, business owners most likely are not aware of the provisions or do not remember them. As a result, business owners will have to pay for the unanticipated cost of sign removal and the purchase and installation of new conforming signage at a time when the region is in economic recession.
LMC 16.75.140.B “Abatement” requires all signs that are considered non-conforming to be brought into compliance by the end of the year 2010. Implementation of these provisions will require City to staff to conduct enforcement actions to ensure businesses owners remove their non-conforming sign within a reasonable amount of time.
Committee members discussed several issues:
Review of Land Use Committee’s One-Year Trial Period
- Negatively impacting the Planning Commission’s 2010 work program by adding another item for review. Rick responded the Planning Committee can allocate a brief time to review this issue without jeopardizing their work program. Ken Ahlf, City Attorney, noted that the appropriate process for amending Title 16 in the LMC, is to forward the issue to the Planning Commission for review and recommendation to Council.
- Staff has not had individual contact with each business owner since 2003 in order to alert them of the abatement deadline, and is in the process of creating an inventory of all businesses with non-conforming signs.
- It was recommended that the abatement provision be extended for a period of one year up to five years to provide an opportunity for inventorying and notification.
- It was recommended that City’s incentive program be reinstituted to provide grant funding assistance to business owners to bring non-conforming signs into compliance.
- Send annual reminders to business owners to notify them of the abatement deadline, so they can plan accordingly.
- Review options for using reader boards to advertise City news and community events.
Deputy Mayor Clarkson noted that when the Land Use Committee was created in January 2010, Council recommended a one-year trial period with a review at the end of the year. That deadline is now approaching, and it is recommended that a decision be made to determine if the committee should continue. This item will be discussed at the November 17 committee meeting.