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Rules For Temporary Signs Under Review in Murrieta

"It is out of control," said Mayor Doug McAllister, about the proliferation of temporary signage popping up around the city.

Signs advertising businesses, real estate, political candidates and the like can regularly be seen near shopping centers and at intersections in Murrieta.

The questions become: how long should signs be posted for, should there be size restrictions, should there be a permit process and how should the city enforce violations?

In a Murrieta City Council workshop held Feb. 7, a consensus was reached to assign a citizen task force comprised of representatives from the business, real estate, religious, sports and residential communities.

"I'm not sure the people up here are qualified to be the final arbitrators...for what are First Amendment rights," said Mayor Pro Tem Rick Gibbs.

The last time the ordinance was updated was in 1999. In recent years, with the downed economy, city staff said more signs are cropping up around town, prompting the need to review regulations.

Temporary signs were defined by city staff as inflatables, those held by twirlers, wooden signs, A-frames, banners, pennants, flags, yard sale signs, those on vehicles, painted signs and political or campaign signs.

They are seen on building walls or windows, fences, utility poles, trees, held up by string, and sometimes they are in the public right-of-way, according to city staff.

"We have a proliferation of temporary signs and (we are) very lax on enforcement," City Manager Rick Dudley said during the workshop. "How vigorously should temporary signs be enforced?"

According to Dudley, enforcement is currently "scattered." He suggested an online no-fee permitting process to keep track of time allotments for temporary signage.

"My purpose is not to over-regulate...the clearer it is, the better it is for enforcement," Dudley said.

Kimberly Davidson, business development manager for the city of Murrieta, was asked whether she had any marketing data as to whether temporary signs attracted business. Davidson did not have access to such data, but in her marketing expertise said signs up for an extended period of time "do not help."

"It just becomes noise; one doesn't stand out from the other," Davidson said.

Council members agreed signage was getting out of hand in some places.

"...I've seen 4 x 4 posts with wood in the public right-of-way," said Mayor Doug McAllister. "It is out of control...This is not just a business district, it is the residents', too. It is their city, too. Our role in government is to make sure folks play nice and then get out of the way."

The reason behind nominating a task force was to ensure any new regulations were fair to all components of the community. The task force—to be nominated by City Council members—will be asked to bring its recommendations before the City Council at a March 22 meeting.

As of Monday, Associate City Planner Cynthia Kinser said they were narrowing the list of task force members down.

Councilman Randon Lane said he feared over-regulating small business.

"...That is something I do not agree with," Lane said. "When you start talking about someone's livelihood—like a real estate agent—I am opposed to that."

Councilman Alan Long said he valued what the business community had to say.

"I don't feel there is a need to get a permit if you are setting up signs," Long said. "At the end of the day, what we come up with needs to be clear, concise and consistent with everyone."

City Council expressed the need to have provisions in place prior to primary elections in June.

"It would behoove all of us to have this done by election season," Gibbs said.

Ed P. February 14, 2012 at 02:48 PM
The growing number of temporary signs is a disgrace and totally out of control.
Sandy G February 14, 2012 at 04:42 PM
The "real estate investor seeks student" are every where and tacky. They are posted sometimes on private property. Don't mind the twirlers as they are not nailed to every stop sign, telephone pole etc. This makes are community look ugly. Take them down!
Joe DeRoest February 14, 2012 at 06:52 PM
Please be careful not to over regulate in this economy. Most are signs posted by small businesses that employ us or our young adult children. Would you rather see a for lease sign in it's place, due to the business going out. I believe there is a tasteful solution. Joe, a small business owner who employs 40 people.
WrigsMom February 14, 2012 at 11:09 PM
This issue is getting out of control. But we need to be careful and supportive of our small businesses and not go in with a sled hammer. The council would do well to think about removing their political signage after the elections.
Major February 15, 2012 at 01:46 AM
Yeah, these darn Property Owners, where the heck do they think they are, America? What makes them think they have the right to try to drum up business by putting signs on their property?
Lee Stout February 16, 2012 at 12:54 AM
We have a small business along Jefferson. We placed a small, tastefull A-Frame in front of the business. Someone (competition) complained and we received a warning to remove it. Since then our business has dropped off 50%, yet our competitors have temporary signs in front of their businesses. We don't believe in "tit for tat" and refuse to complain about the signs. We asked the code enforcement officer if we could get a permit to place it out to advertise sales, etc. and were told no...that if we placed it out again it would be confiscated and we would be fined. I don't think this selective enforcement based on complaints has been fair. It favors one business over another.
Lisa H February 16, 2012 at 01:44 AM
I believe any business owner should have the right to post appropriate signs on their own property. What I don't believe, and what I think the article is referring to, is the random signs posted all over Murrieta. They are on sidewalks, street signs, telephone poles, stuck in the ground, etc. It makes our city look trashy and should be somehow enforced (including political signage). Being from a family who owns a small business (less than 10 employees), I realize the importance of getting your company name out there to as many people as possible, especially in this economy. But there needs to be rules and regulations to follow. We need to keep our city beautiful so we are all proud to live here.
Ed P. February 16, 2012 at 02:09 AM
I fully appreciate the plight of small business owners. My question is who is to determine what is "tasteful.". There are signs for real estate school, reptile kids parties, cell phones, pro quarry, anti-quarry, hair cuts, nail salons. Seriously, when is enuf enuf? Sign pollution diminishes the image of our community.
Ed P. February 16, 2012 at 02:11 AM
Just my opinion, well said.
RMN February 16, 2012 at 03:02 AM
As a business (and building owner) with Jefferson frontage, i have to say that I see all sides of this controversy. we are in a complex where we paid top dollar for our building as it is right on Jefferson. The people who did not pay for that frontage have their signs junking up my front yard! However, in this economic situation we have been graceful about it because we all need extra help. I see both sides on this, I do think it makes our city look bad to have signs everywhere and at some point it needs to be stopped
Dione Moser February 16, 2012 at 03:38 PM
I am so upset right now with all the ways the government is in everything businesses do. I should be allowed to put a sign in front of my business on the property that I have paid for. Their are WAY to many rules that we have to follow and just trying to keep up is so costly. I have an office here in SoCal and one in Michigan. It costs me 6 times more to do business here because of all the ru.es. I agree all the hand written signs on the off ramps are bad and those should be banned...its not their property and it is "junking" up the city but my small professional sign, directly in front of my building should be allowed. Just like Lee, when I took down my sign my business dropped too! PLEASE help SUPPORT and PROTECT Murrieta businesses!!!!!

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