Second look at signs – Supervisors vote to re-examine county’s sign ordinance |

Second look at signs – Supervisors vote to re-examine county’s sign ordinance

The stone and wood Ophir Hill Fire Protection District sign in Cedar Ridge doesn’t cut it. Neither does the ground-hugging sign touting Penn Valley’s Gateway Personal Storage.

These signs, both considered attractive by Nevada County leaders, don’t conform with the county’s five-year-old sign ordinance. Neither do more than half of the 560 signs recently surveyed by county staffers.

And that, coupled with the fact that the county issued only four sign permits in the past two years, indicates the current sign ordinance isn’t working, said Planning Director Randy Wilson.

“We have a problem here that has to do with our ordinance,” said Assistant Planner Garnet Holden.

The Board of Supervisors agreed Tuesday, voting to re-examine the sign ordinance.

“We just want to look at it very carefully to see if there are good signs out there that are a positive reflection on the community that under the current ordinance would need to be (phased out),” Wilson said.

The 2000 ordinance directed county staffers to compile a list of signs and determine how to remove the nonconforming signs. The former board intended that signs would be removed only after they had lost their value based on a depreciation formula, said Peter Van Zant, a former supervisor.

Van Zant said the sign ordinance was crafted in response to concerns about “sign clutter.”

“The idea was that over the long run, it would take a long time, (we would have) much better looking and more sensitively designed signs,” Van Zant said.

Wilson said the new sign ordinance will be “more practical.”

“I don’t think we’re looking at making the sign ordinance not a good ordinance,” Wilson said. “We certainly want to look at the realistic application of it.”

Supervisor John Spencer suggested deleting the sign ordinance from the General Plan, an idea half-jokingly embraced by Supervisor Robin Sutherland, who said she was concerned about the ordinance’s effect on small businesses.

Van Zant said he supported the current sign ordinance.

“I would hate to see them retreat from that. I don’t think it would help business or the quality of life,” Van Zant said.

County staffers will bring suggestions for a new ordinance before the Planning Commission, which will debate the issue and provide an opportunity for public comment.

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