Laguna council wants to test new outdoor sign rules

Discount shop sign on Forest Avenue, Laguna Beach on Small Business Saturday. (Photo by Spencer Gra
Shoppers stroll along Forest Avenue during Small Business Saturday in November 2016. The Laguna Beach City Council agreed Tuesday to test a program that will allow more businesses to experiment with outdoor displays and signs.
(File Photo)

Rules about outdoor signs and displays will be relaxed for Laguna Beach businesses this spring and summer.

The City Council on Tuesday unanimously agreed to test a new set of less-restrictive rules regarding the marketing tactic for six months in Laguna’s downtown.

The temporary rules will allow business owners to erect outdoor displays on private property that contain no more than five items of merchandise and not exceed 18 square feet, according to a city staff report. An outdoor display permit would be issued over the counter.

If a business does not have an alcove or an outdoor display area that does not encroach into the public right of way, the owner could post a window sign or display larger than what the municipal code allows.


The pilot rules are similar for A-frame signs, which must be compatible with the building’s architectural style and not impede pedestrian or vehicle traffic.

Signs must not exceed 6 square feet. Permits also would be issued over the counter.

Currently, restaurants are the only types of businesses allowed to have A-frame signs, which must not exceed 8 square feet, Community Development Director Greg Pfost told the council.

If a business owner wants an outdoor display for more than five days, he or she must receive a conditional use permit from the Planning Commission, a lengthier and often more expensive process, the report said.


If the display will be up for five days or less, the community development director can issue a temporary use permit.

Currently only four businesses have legal outdoor displays, according to the city’s report.

City staff members approached the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce about relaxing sign and display rules, and representatives worked together to craft recommendations for the trial period.

The chamber will hold a workshop in February to educate business owners about the temporary rules, chamber board member Norm Grossman said.

The expected start date is March 1.

Twitter: @AldertonBryce