Economic Development Manager Amanda Jacobs recapped the Sign Code Task Force recommendations from the September 8, 2010 Council meeting and Council’s request to look at recommendations in a series of study sessions. She also stated that the only recommendation that was completed on September 8th, with direction from Council, was real estate signage.
She stated that real estate signs would be reviewed that evening as well as permanent sign standards, and that on October 27, 2010, Sign Code Task Force recommendations would be brought forward again regarding temporary signage.
Ms. Jacobs discussed the Council’s direction on September 8th regarding Open House and temporary signage in the public right-of-way, as well as the hours which signs could be placed and picked up during the day. Location of the 10 foot stated setback was the final item that Council directed staff to bring back with more flexibility.
Permitting Division Manager Paul Keesler presented a month-long weekend study of sign code placement in the community. The primary goal, from an engineering perspective, in looking at real estate signage is public safety and that is where the 10’ setback originated from.
He stated that his first concern when observing the signage were those placed in medians, as they can fall over into traffic lanes and create an obstacle hazard. They are also a distraction to drivers. Next he found signs that were placed adjacent to the edge of pavement (particulary A-frame signs) and found those unsafe also due to the possibility of falling into a travel lane and creating an obstacle hazard. This placement of signage could also fall into the bicycle lane. Mr. Keesler pointed out that a significant obstruction was signage placed on sidewalks. This signage obstructs walking paths and handicap ramps, making usage difficult or next to impossible for walkers and/or wheelchairs. The last issue that Mr. Keesler observed was multiple signs placed at an intersection and stated that safety was an issue because of driver distraction.
Next, he reviewed the proposed changes from existing code, which allowed signs closer to the pavement than the 10 foot setback with pre-approval from the Town Engineer and separated out sign placement requirements for low speed local streets (25 mph and under).
Discussion ensued regarding logistics of signage and placement, as well as staff approval.
Mayor Hiremath opened the floor for public comment and stated that comments would be restricted to current real estate signage code and the recommendations that were just presented.
Bob Semple, Oro Valley resident and Branch Manager of Long Realty, commented that his real estate signs were metal signs with a metal frame issued from Long Realty. However, the top producers of the company prefer the A-frame signs and purchase those themselves from a company called Sign Up Tucson.
Jim Bowman, Manager of Coldwell Banker, reported that they currently provides plastic/PVC A-frame signs with a metal frame around it to their agents. They prefer these because the sign has a handle around it, it is not made of metal and does not rust or rattle. He stated that metal frames are very hot during the summer to pick up after a showing and they can rust and are sharp, however, they are $100 cheaper than their current signs.
Don Vallee, Oro Valley resident, commented that he currently uses sandwich-board signs which are plastic, hollow and able to filled with sand. He commented that they are reasonably safe and their purpose, as well as A-frame signs with legs, are to be used in places with foliage or vegetation on the road to maximize visibility.
Jeff Collins, realtor, stated that he has signs with a metal bottom as well as an A-frame sign that is irrigation tubing, stands 3 feet off the ground, and has bolts in the legs to give weight to it for windy days. He also secures the sign in the ground with pegs.
Donald Bristow, Oro Valley resident, commented on facts that he found on the internet stating that 2% of homes are sold from having an open house. He questioned the Council spending a lot of time on the signage issue and questioned whether real estate agents were independent business people, whether or not they owned their signs, and should they be taking out a permit individually.
Mike Wilson, Oro Valley resident and Long real estate agent, stated that he supported the Sign Code Task Force recommendations and the work that they’ve done. He stated that agents need the Open House capability as it is a big part of their business, and they use this venue as a way to get more business.
Chayah Masters, Oro Valley resident and newer Long realty agent, stated that she uses the metal-based sign. Ms. Masters commented that in the current economy agents need every tool that they can use in their toolbox. Having an Open House is one tool to offer a client to do the best job possible.
Mayor Hiremath asked staff when the next study session was regarding permanent signs. Ms. Jacobs answered that the study session that evening was to finish Real Estate Sign Code recommendations from September 8, 2010, and then to bring forward Permanent Sign Code standards for Council direction. She also stated that on October 27, 2010, Temporary Sign Code recommendations would be on the agenda such as banners, model home banners and other real estate signs.
Mr. Keesler confirmed that the revisions proposed better defines the placement of the signage and made it safer for the community, but did not allow for an increase in signage.
Councilmember Gillaspie requested a summary of the changes made to the real estate section of the Sign Code in a table format comparing old code, proposed recommendations and new code.
Councilmember Solomon began the Permanent Sign standards discussion with entryway signs. He stated that currently the Code allowed a sign on one entry wall only, and that he had received complaints from subdivisions regarding this because it is visible from one direction only.
Discussion ensued regarding Master Sign Code, Planned Area Developments and the ability to request for a variance for signage by subdivisions.
Mayor Hiremath asked that the Permanent Sign standard regarding illuminated letters be brought to the next study session for Council direction.
MOTION: A motion was made by Councilmember Gillaspie and seconded by Councilmember Waters continue the Study Session on Permanent Signs to October 27, 2010.
MOTION carried, 7-0.
Mayor Hiremath opened the floor for public comment.
Bill Adler, Oro Valley resident, stated that he wanted the Town to adopt a waiver option for signs so that evidence could be gathered as to the certainty of whether signage could generate new revenue. He stated that feelings, comfort levels and opinions were being expressed to write Code instead of facts.