By Ted AYALA
Outdoor signage has been a source of tension between local business owners and city code enforcers in recent months. The sluggish economy is pushing businesses to display their signage more prominently on sidewalks and street corners, running afoul of city ordinances.
The Glendale City Council on Tuesday reviewed some of the sign ordinances affecting businesses at the Americana at Brand and Glendale Galleria.
At issue was the city’s “Advertising Signage Overlay Zone” (ASOZ) which, according to the language in the code, “protects street views and vistas of pedestrian-oriented streets, limits visual clutter, [and minimizes] obstruction of architectural elements.”
The ASOZ was approved by council in March 2010.
City Manager Scott Ochoa, when briefing the council on the ordinance, said that developments in signage technology require the city to revise the code.
“The market and technology have gone beyond what the ASOZ is allowed to do under the terms of the municipal code,” he said.
The proposed amendments to the ASOZ would expand the types of signs permitted. This would include allowing the use of animated digital signs, which have provoked controversy in Los Angeles over the past few years from critics that view digital signs as visual pollution.
Digital signage that would be permitted under the revised ASOZ would be signs which would change images no faster than every eight seconds, would include a transition period of one second, have a brightness that would not exceed surrounding ambient lighting levels, and produce no sound or projecting effects. Other signs that would be permitted would be banners, ground signs and canopy signs.
Total qualifying signage that would be permitted numbers at 40 – an increase of nearly a dozen from the current number allowed under the present ASOZ.
Some members of the council remarked that it was regrettable that signs for the Americana and Glendale Galleria couldn’t be consistent within and without the ASOZ.
“It’s too bad they don’t all blend together so people don’t get confused,” said Mayor Dave Weaver.
Councilmember Ara Najarian was in favor of the kinds of signs allowed in the ASOZ, saying that he liked the idea of incorporating illuminated digital signs as well as their ability of incorporating public service announcements.
“We could almost use this [ASOZ] as a pilot for other illuminated signs which may go up throughout the city,” he said. “I think people will see that they are very high quality, very flexible.”
Najarian did express concern that some of the tenant signage stuck out “like that monolith in Space Odyssey 2001.”
“The Americana is much more Renaissance [in style],” he added pointing out that the signs may potentially not fit well with overall architectural style that surrounds them.
Inconsistencies in revenue sharing from the ASOZ sparked the ire of Councilmember Frank Quintero who said that he would “reject for sure” any version of the adjustments that do not resolve the problem.
“For me, it’s about digital billboards,” he said. “The residents of this city need to share in that income stream.”