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City to look at sign law enforcement

The City Council has been asked by Councilmember Linda Ryno to hold a Study Session regarding code enforcement.

"I think we need to get creative about how we are going to do code enforcement since signs are starting to pop up all along Mitchell Road again and we only have one person who can do code enforcement," said Ryno.

Her comment, made at the end of the Feb. 23 council meeting, was in reference to the recent city action to crack down on illegal signs. Ryno said she is seeing illegal signs pop up along Hatch Road as well.

The matter will likely be scheduled for the Monday, March 23 meeting night.

Don Cool, who was a member of an ad hoc city committee to look at A-frame signs last year, said the Ceres Police Department needs to get involved in enforcement.

"They need to be code enforcement," said Cool, "If they can go out and get 26 citations in one day ... why can't they be doing it all the time? This whole excuse of ‘we only have one guy' does not cut it anymore."

Cool's comment was in reference to a one-time police crackdown of illegal signs in February 2014 which was called off by then Police Chief Art deWerk after hearing complaints about the style of enforcement. DeWerk said his direction was intended to be on a warning basis but after officers started citing business owners he said their "full-blown enforcement without a warning period" was "unfair and non-productive."

In April 2014 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. Used and new car sales lots are also unable to use feather banners and blow-up devices. Auto sales lots are still permitted to display signs under open hoods and fly flag banners. 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.

Illegal signs in Ceres 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.

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