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Business signage standards relaxed for now
• City to be lenient on signs during COVID-19 lockdown
KFC sign
Signage is helping some businesses – like KFC here at Hatch and Mitchell – cope so the city is relaxing its restrictions. - photo by Jeff Benziger

The city is allowing businesses to put up signs that ordinarily would not be permitted under the Sign Ordinance. Members of the City Council suggested recently that businesses which are still open be given a break on sign standards in light of the economic shutdown now in its eighth week.

Because many businesses are struggling, Councilman Bret Durossette wondered if the city might relax its sign ordinance standards and allow feather or A-frame signs “until this pandemic thing goes away.”

Only businesses deemed “essential” have remained open during the coronavirus pandemic. They include grocery, convenience, hardware and auto parts stores, pharmacies, restaurants (take-out or drive-thru only), medical offices, banks and financial institutions.

The government mandated shutdown has wreaked havoc on most downtown businesses with Councilman Bret Durossette commenting that it looked like a “ghost town with no signage out.” 

Vice Mayor Linda Ryno said she has already seen businesses posting signs that are technically illegal but doesn’t feel a need to enact the Sign Ordinance during this time. She suggested a social media blitz telling business that sign laws won’t be enforced for the time being.

Councilman Mike Kline agreed in relaxing sign standards since some strip malls have a few open businesses among the majority being closed.

The state and county have been encouraging cities to back off of code enforcement and be “as flexible as possible” for businesses.

No specific council action was necessary.

The Sign Ordinance, which was updated earlier this year, does not allow A-frame signs, feather signs, and signs move, swing, rotate, flash, blink or otherwise animated components. Nor does it allow windblown devices and signs whose movement is designed to attract attention, such as feather flags/feather banners, pennants, flags, inflatable signs or balloons and inflatable animals or similar signs.

However, until the economic shutdown is lifted the city will not be enforcing those standards.

As of Tuesday, Stanislaus County had 411 positive Covid-19 cases and has seen 15 deaths. Of those tested, 5,928 tested negative and 253 with COVID-19 have recovered.

With a county population of 550,660, the death rate calculates to 0.000025 percent. Those who have died from complications caused by coronavirus has underlying health issues.