After giving direction to city staff to revise a dated sign ordinance after it granted approval of an LED sign on the east side of town, the Oakdale City Council members decided to take no action at its Monday, March 21 meeting on a presented revision by City Manager Brian Whitemyer.
The matter dates to the Feb. 16 meeting when the council approved an off premises LED 100-foot sign to be located at 1625 E. F St. Developer George Rose stated in seeking approval that the area was zoned for “mixed use” and did not allow for the type of signage he wanted. Rose contended, and the council agreed, the city’s sign ordinance was outdated when it came to current technology and modern signs available to business owners today.
In approving Rose’s matter, the council directed Whitemyer and city staff to take steps to limit the number of off-premise signs and develop a revision that would only allow a maximum of four signs within the city limits.
After drafting a revised ordinance, Whitemyer said the purpose of the four-sign limit was so that one, if approved by the council, could only be located near the entry points of the city along North Yosemite Avenue, East F Street, South Yosemite Avenue, and West F Street, the northern, southern, eastern, and western most travelled routes coming into the city.
During council discussion, Councilman Tom Dunlop questioned whether the revision was only a “temporary Band-Aid” until the city’s dated sign ordinance could be completely re-done.
To Whitemyer’s credit, he had used the same term, “It’s a Band-Aid, that’s all it is,” on Feb. 16 when describing what a revised ordinance would result in when contesting the council’s plan to approve Rose’s request.
“By approving this tonight, we’re making the existing sign code less restrictive than more restrictive,” Councilman Richard Murdoch said, pointing out that off premises signs were allowed under the existing code in the industrial area of the city. “I pretty much guarantee you as soon as I say this; we’re going to see an application for three more signs because it’s an excellent business opportunity.”
Dunlop stated that the city was in a “Catch-22” because business owners want to advertise on opposite sides of town yet “these signs can be pretty ugly.”
Whitemyer advised the council that city staff currently doesn’t have the authority to approve any of the signs Rose sought out so anyone wanting to install a similar one would still have to go before the council.
Whitemyer said the purpose of the revision was to send a message that Oakdale wasn’t going to allow a proliferation of these signs.
“If it was truly pitched to us as a benefit for local businesses, then it should be restricted to local businesses,” Whitemyer said. “It’s not our job to advertise for Jackson Rancheria or other out-of-the-area companies.”
“We could leave it alone and see what happens with one sign,” Dunlop said. “One problem is easier to deal with than four or five problems.”
After consultation with City Attorney Tom Hallinan on the dais, the council decided to take no action and leave the existing sign ordinance in place.