Stopping a Sign Problem : Say It Any Old Way but Spell It in Roman Letters

Times Staff Writer

This city's approach to potential problems is to pass laws to prevent them before they can get out of hand.

The city outlawed nude and topless bars, although there had not been any in the city for a number of years.

Another law passed recently requires employees of escort services to wear badges identifying them as such while on duty.

Two years ago, when home satellite dish antennas were becoming common, the city put controls on how and where the antennas could be installed.

This week the City Council moved to nip another potential problem in the bud by passing an ordinance to control it.

City officials say there has been no proliferation of signs in Chinese characters or other foreign alphabets--which could pose a problem for emergency services responding to calls--but businesses and other public places will now be required to have at least one sign with the name and address in Roman letters and Arabic numerals. The ordinance was unanimously adopted without comment this week by the City Council.

The ordinance, adapted from one being considered in Monterey Park and other San Gabriel Valley communities with large foreign-born populations, requires businesses and places of public assembly such as churches and meeting halls to have the additional sign.

Torrance Deputy City Atty. Herman Herzbrun said the ordinance is designed to prevent a problem and does not require any foreign signs to be taken down. "It requires only that at least one sign identify the location in characters that can be read by those schooled only in English," Herzbrun said.

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