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Car lots to fall under new sign rules
Commission: no all-time use of banners
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Feather banners and balloons will be allowed on a limited basis on car lots. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier photo

Members of the Ceres Planning Commission met Monday and supported a recommendation that the City Council add further restrictions on signs for Ceres' 12 auto sales lots.

In April the Ceres City Council addressed the proliferation of temporary signs, saying they were detracting from the aesthetics of the community. Besides saying the city would enforce a long-time ban on A-frame signs and feather banners in front of a business, the city said it would amend the sign ordinance to make car dealers live by most of the same rules as other businesses. If the council follows the commission's recommendation, used and new car sales lots will be unable to regularly use feather banners and blow-up devices. Past practice has allowed car lots unrestricted use of feather banners while other types of businesses could not.

Any business - car lots included - may apply for a free permit allowing them to fly feather banners during special promotions for 90 days out of the calendar year. Inflatable signs or balloons - like giant blow-ups - are allowed for 15 days out of the calendar year.

"They can break it up into any segment they want to," said Tom Westbrook, director of Community Development. "Where they used to have just an unlimited use of that sign all year round, we're saying now you're consistent with other uses."

Rafael Padilla of California Auto Sales on Mitchell Road came to the meeting to get clarification of the proposed law change. He asked if he could post banners on the weekends. He was told to get a permit and could only post them 90 days a year.

"You would have to strategically pick maybe which weekends you were going to have the banners and which weekends you were not," Westbrook told Padilla.

The City Council will take up the proposed ordinance change on July 22 and if adopted would take effect 30 days later.

Auto sales lots will still be permitted to display signs under open hoods and fly flag banners.

The spring sign ordinance change determined that no businesses can use human or mechanic sign spinners and mannequins holding signs.

Businesses will be able to use inflatable signs but only during a special event and only 15 days out of the year. Again, a permit needs to be obtained from the city.

Westbrook said the city's code enforcement team will be taking action to remove illegal signs.

The city sign ordinance allows real estate signs and political signs on a limited basis.

Illegal signs are those that constitute a potential traffic hazard by being placed in such a manner as to obstruct free and clear vision of pedestrian traffic, or which simulate in size, color, lettering or design any traffic sign or signal. Illegal signs are any signs within the public right of way, including those on street trees, utility poles, street signals, streetlights, street name signs, traffic warning signs or sidewalks, except official. Signs may not move, swing, rotate, flash, blink or otherwise animated components, except barber poles, clocks, thermometers or electronic changeable copy signs. Also not permitted are windblown devices and signs whose movement is designed to attract attention, such as pennants, flags, inflatable signs or balloons, inflatable animals or similar signs, or reflective attachments to sign faces.

The city sign ordinance also does not permit vehicle signs or signs on or affixed to trucks, vans, automobiles, trailers or other vehicles which advertise, or provide direction to, a use or activity not related to the lawful making of deliveries or sales of merchandise or rendering of service from such vehicle.

Also any signs that are portable or freestanding (not permanently affixed, anchored or secured to the ground or structure) are illegal.