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Law change to ban feather banners from car lots
Council votes unanimous for change
car lot
Car lots like this one on Mitchell Road will no longer be exempt from the no feather banner rule in Ceres. The council wants the feather signs on lots to go away for better aesthetics. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier file photo

In a short period of time, car lots in Ceres will no longer be able to fly feather banner signs in an effort to draw the eyes of passing motorists.

Members of the Ceres City Council met Monday and supported a Planning Commission action adds 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. Once the sign ordinance changes go into effect, used and new car sales lots will be unable to 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 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."

As of April 1 the city has been enforcing the sign ordinance, including the use of A frame signs.

"We still, from time to time, see things pop up but Frank Alvarez, our code enforcement officer, is very responsive to get those addressed," said Westbrook. "We continue to prohibit such signs as A frames, the mannequins/ sign spinners, prohibit feather banners, the yard signs and inflatables, except which will be permitted under some temporary stuff, like a grand opening."

The City Council will take up the second reading of the ordinance on August 11 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. 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.

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

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.

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.