• Attractive signage is the aim for downtown

    The City Council, at its recent meeting, approved the first reading of a new sign ordinance it hopes will  not only streamline the permit process – a long-term goal – but will also result in a downtown with signage that’s heavy on graphics and more attractive to customers.

    In fact, so eager are staff and stakeholders that the ordinance have an immediate, beneficial effect, that the ordinance calls for waivers of over-the-counter permit fees for signs which otherwise meet standards for the first six months of the ordinance implementation.

    Concerns brought forth included the overall proliferation of signs downtown, many of doubtful quality of materials and design. There are signs which are inconsistent with the historical nature and architecture of downtown, including neon signs; and some signs and awnings say staff and other stakeholders, are not well-maintained.

    Free-standing signs, such as A-frames, will be allowed but only if they are professionally created and located in front of the business itself, not blocks away on street corners. Lighting will be monitored with preference given to flood or spotlight, not internal illumination, except for theater marquees.

    Specific sizes and ratios of words and ancillary copy to graphics are spelled out in the ordinance. Placement preference of signs on buildings are spelled out. In all cases, signs will be required to be professional in appearance and material.

    With input in the past year from the Architectural Review Board, the Downtown Stakeholder Committee, the Planning Commission, the Economic Development Commission, the Downtown Business Improvement District and  the Chamber of Commerce, the draft ordinance was put together and brought before a number of committees and commissions before being brought to the Council. They sought to establish more explicit standards and guidelines and to allow staff to expedite approval at a reasonable cost to the permit seeker. In fact, there is reason to believe that the tangled process and fees involved have kept many from seeking sign approval and approval to maintain awnings. In many cases, it was pointed out, approval required ARB approval so businesses either skirted approval or went without adequate signage.

    Statistics have shown, according to the Chamber of Commerce, that some 76 percent of consumers say they entered a store they had never visited before based on its signs, and 69 percent say they have purchased a product or service based on signage. More than two-thirds of consumers queried said they believe that a store’s signage reflects the quality of its products and/or services.

    The ordinance also includes a review process to see how its working and to examine the possibility of using it in other commercial areas of Pacific Grove. That review will likely take place in about a year from the final passage, expected at the Nov, 20, 2013 City Council meeting. A complete copy of the agenda report, including drawings and visual renderings of preferred signage can be found on the city’s website at http://www.ci.pg.ca.us/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=8980

    posted to Cedar Street Times on November 14, 2013

    Topics: Front PG News

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