I applaud the city’s efforts, in conjunction with the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce, to rid our downtown streets of non-conforming signs.
Recently officials from the city and chamber initiated a boots-on-the-ground war against those who are violating the sign regulations.
To give you an idea of how difficult a job they’re facing, let’s look at the commercial center where Rite Aid anchors one end and Vons the other.
Almost at the same time an illegal banner was removed from the landscaping in front of that complex, a new makeshift illegal banner for a new pizza restaurant was stuck in the landscaping. The sign is a vinyl banner affixed to PVC pipe.
This is all within 10 feet of the only palm tree left from when the property was the home of Atascadero founder E.G. Lewis and the off-ramp from Highway 101 — sometimes the first view and impression visitors get of this city.
Getting rid of these non-conforming signs is long overdue. The city has been reluctant to enforce its sign ordinance for fear of being unfriendly to business.
I contend that the council is being unfriendly to the citizens of this community by not taking steps to ensure that Atascadero is a nice place to visit.
The sign ordinance isn’t difficult to understand. It is very detailed on how big your sign can be and even where it can be placed. A sandwich board, for example, can go in front of a business. But many of the businesses that put those signs on the sidewalk are hundreds of feet away, often in the back of a commercial center. To those merchants, I say, that is why you advertise.
Those sandwich board signs on the sidewalk also pose a risk to someone in a wheelchair or a bicycle, although bikes really aren’t supposed to be ridden on the sidewalk.
A banner is allowed to be put up for special events or sales. Most are up until the sun bleaches them white or the wind rips them down. Nowhere does the sign ordinance allow advertising banners to be erected in the public landscaping. At one time I pulled out those non-conforming signs, but I finally just gave up.
The chamber has scheduled a Sign Symposium at 8:30 a.m. on April 30 a.m. in the council chambers. This, combined with the city’s enforcement efforts, is another positive step in improving the appearance of Atascadero’s commercial property.