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Thread: Signs, signs, everywhere signs...

  1. #1
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    Edmonton
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    Signs, signs, everywhere signs...

    As part of the Land Use Bylaw update, I will be revamping the City's Sign Bylaw. The state of the art in the sign biz up here is way behind sign companies in the States... and because I know this, I want to get a jump on the regulations *before* someone wants to bring in a hideously obnoxious sign.

    So what I was wondering is what new types of signs are proliferating in your communities that you have found to be a pain in the butt to regulate? And if you have found solutions, that's even better!

    As an example, the City of Vancouver was struggling with video billboards when I left, so I know I'll regulate them with this update. Same thing with the signs on the back of the flatbed trucks, which luckily haven't made it up here yet.

    Any other annoying signs the rest of you have had to deal with? Please share!

  2. #2
    It has been my experience that ALL signs are annoying. Developers, business owners, and sign agents have a difficult time comprehending any sign ordinance, no matter how straight forward it is. They also don't understand the "hardship" determination when requesting a variance. Too bad our Plan Commission can't quite grasp that either. I am sorry but the argument by Bank A that Bank B has an extra sign is not a hardship. Neither is the fact that another community allows a particular signs. If people would submit signs that adhere to our code, they would not have any trouble, but for some reason 75 percent of the people involved with signs insist on pushing the envelope. Enough of my rant...

    My city just finished up a 10-year sign compliance program last fall, so I have probably approved some 100-150 signs over the last couple of years.

    Wall signs are probably the easiest to deal with. Just use a percentage of the lineal front fooot of the building. In our code, we take .8 times the lineal front foot to establish the max sign face area, to a max of 150 sq ft. If you have a monument sign and a wall sign, it is lowered to .5 to a max of 100 sq ft.

    Pole signs and temporary signs are the most difficult (in my opinion). I guess I would recommend, if politically feasible, limiting signs to 10-15 feet in height, eliminating pole signs or giving bonuses for monument signs (ie: if you have a pole sign, you only get one sign per business, if you have a monument, you get a wall sign too. We also limit what you can put on a sign...you can have the name of business, type of business, and address, but no phone number, web site addresses, listings of services provided or items sold, etc. We limit the number of tenants that can be listed also. Max is two tenants listed on a sign. The intent is to minimize the number of people that slow down to try and read a list of tenants to see if they have the right address or those who try to jot down phone numbers as they drive.

    Billboards - we ban them outright. We do not allow any off-premise signs.
    "I'm a white male, age 18 to 49. Everyone listens to me, no matter how dumb my suggestions are."

    - Homer Simpson

  3. #3
    One more thing...you asked what signs were proliferating in the community. I will say over the past couple of years, these tiny, shaped corrugated plastic signs that stick about 2 feet out of the ground. Apartments and oil change places use them the most. There will be a line of like 4-5 of them along a property frontage "No Deposit" "$500 a month" "Utilities Included" "Units Available" etc.

    Example
    "I'm a white male, age 18 to 49. Everyone listens to me, no matter how dumb my suggestions are."

    - Homer Simpson

  4. #4
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    I hate to say it, but I've found that the average Canadian city has far more sign clutter than the average city in the United States. Large pole signs are still prevelant, and portable signs are everywhere north of the border.

    Still, though, it seems like there's more uniformity north of the border. 10 meter tall pole signs, 10 square meters each, with the obligatory portable sign in the parking lot. Here in the States, though, an increasing number of municipalities have very strict sign regulations, but they also have the legacy of old signs from the anything goes days of the 1960s and 1970s. The most cluttered American cities, a disproportionate amount located in Texas and the Southeast, make a typical Canadian 'burg look quaint by comparison. Here in the Orlando metro area, about half of the region is in jurisdictions with very strict sign regs, with two meter tall monument signs the rule, while in the other half Las Vegas serves as the role model.

    What to look out for, IMHO ...

    * Tri-vision billboards. Billboard companies will claim that they have a right to grow as much as any other company, but strict sign regulations are hindering them. They'll offer to get rid of some (smaller or less profitable) signs, if the remaining signs can be outfitted with tri-vision panels. 672 square feet of animated goodness. Ugh. Most US municipalities now ban animated signs, but tri-visions are creeping into those places that are far less enlightened.

    * High-rise signs. Litter on a stick, the scurge of the South. Gotta' be gure that McDonalds is seen a couple of clicks before the exit, so the driver can make a decision about whether to stop there or not. I counter high-rise sign arguments with the fact that business site placement is self-imposed; if they need a huge sign to generate traffic, it's their fault for picking a site that has such a handicap. Besides, they're also appropriating a huge portion of the public viewshed for their commercial gain.

    * Snipe signs. They're little coroplast signs that folks stick along the side of the road, advertising their landscaping service, pressure spraying business, make money fast scheme, or predatory mortgages. I can't think of a place that allows them. The only way to keep ahead of the street spammers is to pull the signs as soon as they appear. Broken glass thoery ... if an area is clean, it's more likely to stay clean. When such signs remain, they act as magnets for even more signs.

    * Mural signs. This says it all.



    * Truckside advertising.



    * Mobile billboards.



    * Cut-outs and 3D surfaces on large billboards.



    Oh yeah ... they're no longer called "billboards." They're "out-of-home advertising solutions."
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  5. #5
    Originally posted by Dan
    * High-rise signs. Litter on a stick, the scurge of the South. Gotta' be gure that McDonalds is seen a couple of clicks before the exit, so the driver can make a decision about whether to stop there or not. I counter high-rise sign arguments with the fact that business site placement is self-imposed; if they need a huge sign to generate traffic, it's their fault for picking a site that has such a handicap. Besides, they're also appropriating a huge portion of the public viewshed for their commercial gain.
    The thing that gets me about these 100 foot tall signs along the interstate is that there is usually a blue sign along the interstae for each hotel, gas station, and restaurant. Thing that sucks in Milwaukee county is that the DOT will not allow them in Milwaukee county even though they are allowed everywhere else in the state. Kind of ties my city's hand when we try and shut down huge signs along the interstate.
    "I'm a white male, age 18 to 49. Everyone listens to me, no matter how dumb my suggestions are."

    - Homer Simpson

  6. #6
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
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    I don't mind signs per se, but to use examples you may be familiar with... I'm trying to avoid my town looking like Aurora Boulevard. You can learn from other's mistakes. My .02 dollars.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian smarty's avatar
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    Sep 2001
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    Cascadia
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    irritating signs

    the ones we're struggling with are the LED/electronic message centers and old school reader boards. DO NOT allow those to proliferate where ever you are..........they create a 'mini Las Vegas' in strip commercial areas. If you've got the cajones, explicitly prohibit them. We're also seeing a few of the video screens. There is one on I-5 between Seattle and Tacoma that is freakin' huge and is like (actually it IS) television and they've even shown some Mariners games............
    But apparently this property is located in Native American soil, so they can do what they want.

    Our code also allows industrial properties to have any number of freestanding, 35' hi, 300SF signs. This is MUCH to big, there really is no need for that in smaller communities. Vegas, LA, Times Square, sure.......with smaller communities in growing areas, cap the sigange.

    I thought I had a picture to attach of our main commercial strip, but can't seem to find it............
    I wonder if birds know it's Tuesday?

  8. #8
    We restrict electronic message boards and video screens to 50 percent of the max allowable sign area and re require that 50% of the messages are community related (they usually advertise school events, fun raisers, parades, festivals, etc). We also regulate them so that no scrolling, flashing, blinking or animated messages are allowed.
    "I'm a white male, age 18 to 49. Everyone listens to me, no matter how dumb my suggestions are."

    - Homer Simpson

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    We have pretty severe sign limits, too. Like six feet high max for ground mounted signs.

    Our electronic signs are allowed to change once every 60 seconds, and the change must be complete within one second. The purpose is to keep from distracting motorists. They tend to become "mesmerized" by a sign that is "continually" changing.

    The 60 seconds is designed to accommodate time of day messages.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian smarty's avatar
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    copy of ordinance - streck

    unfortunately, my personal/protective stance on reader boards/electronic message centers may have to change. Apparently there is a growing throng of merchants rallying for The Cause (which would be reader boards).

    I would like to amass several ordinances and create one that would allow readers but on a limited basis.

    So, could you (Cyburbinites) email me copies??? Especially Streck, I like the one minute change idea and the 50% of max allowed and requirement of partial community events.

    Thanks.
    I wonder if birds know it's Tuesday?

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    Southeast US
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    Straight from the Ordinance:

    5. Changing signs (automatic) - automated changing signs which provide community event information, time and temperature, in addition to advertisement. Sign may not change more than once every sixty seconds and change must be completed in one second.

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