Council ends ban on signs

Once considered visual clutter, street advertisements were touted as important tools for local merchants Tuesday as the Glendale City Council unanimously voted in favor of lifting a 50-year ban on pedestrian signs.

“If they’re going to have quality signs, that can certainly add to the atmosphere,” said Councilman Rafi Manoukian.

Despite the ruling, some council members were critical at first, fearing that increased flexibility may lead to sidewalks bursting with signs.

“I’m not too thrilled about it, quite frankly,” said Councilman Frank Quintero. “I just don’t know that this really makes a big difference in terms of sales or anything else.”

The change, which was supported by several business groups that said the signs would boost business during the protracted recession, comes with some caveats.

The signs would be permitted only in Glendale’s five business improvement districts and would require a $100 permit. The districts include Montrose Shopping Park, Adams Square, Kenneth Village and Sparr Heights. Each ground-floor shop will be allowed only one 48-by-30-inch A-frame sign.

Despite the longtime ban, many businesses still used the A-frame signs, according to a staff report. Those merchants would receive notices of violations or city officials would confiscate their signs, the report stated. Due to the recession, businesses have increasingly asked that the ban be lifted, said Interim City Manager Yasmin Beers.

Merchants who want to put out an A-frame sign would also have to show proof of $1 million in liability insurance when they apply for a permit, which is the same insurance requirement for sidewalk dining.

Businesses separated from the street by a parking area will not be allowed to have the pedestrian signs, Senior Planner Jeff Hamilton said. Plastic, cardboard and vinyl signs would be banned, but metal, wood or aluminum would be permitted.

“The goal in developing these standards was to come up with something that would be attractive,” Hamilton said, adding that the restrictions were generally agreed upon by local business groups.

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