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THOUSAND OAKS : Auto Dealers Seek OK of Electronic Sign

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Thousand Oaks’ auto dealers turned out in force Monday night to ask the Planning Commission to approve an electronic message board advertising the city’s Auto Mall.

But dozens of residents said compromising the city’s sign ordinance to allow the massive message board would open the flood gates for similar requests from other businesses.

The dealers argued that the 28-foot-high message board, which would replace a smaller monument sign alongside the Ventura Freeway, would help make the Auto Mall more competitive during these tough economic times.

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They stressed that the Auto Mall’s economic success is vital to the city because it provides more than $2 million in annual sales tax revenue.

Chuck Cohen, an attorney representing the Auto Mall’s 13 dealers, said the sign could help boost sales tax revenue by 5% to 20%.

The city’s planning staff, however, has recommended against the large electronic sign because it violates several design guidelines. The staff also pointed out that several auto dealers already have received special permits to erect signs that exceed the requirements of the sign ordinance.

One alternative, officials suggested, would be for the dealers to simply upgrade the existing sign.

The commission has the option of tabling the issue and asking the City Council to amend the sign ordinance to allow electronic signs, such as the one proposed.

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