Signs, signs, everywhere there’s signs. And the rules for those signs, at least in the City of SLO, are getting an update.

What’s the big deal about signs? Well, as the song says, they’re everywhere and can easily contribute to visual blight (blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind). We’ve all driven through places with ugly, out-of-control signage. Most of us agree we don’t want that here.

But signs are also key in helping customers and clients find businesses, and we need a process for approving them that’s neither onerous nor quashes creativity.

It’s critical to get the balance right, hence why the SLO Chamber convened a group to examine the issue and develop recommendations that we’re advocating as the SLO City Council prepares to take up the issue Aug. 20.

Here are some key elements we’re advocating for:

  • Increased clarity: Across the board. The ordinance must be easily understood by business owners. The role of advisory bodies must be clear. The process for exceptions should be transparent and not so cumbersome as to prevent creativity.
  • Streamlined process: Consideration of signage should occur at the beginning of a project process, not the end. Projects close to completion should not be held up due to back-and-forth over signage. Approval should be granted automatically for signs that fall within ordinance guidelines.
  • Size considerations: City staff are recommending standards for number, size and placement of signs (read the study session report for background and details), but we’d like to see consideration of distance from the road as well.
  • Murals as public art: We support the proposal to consider murals as public art rather than signs, though increased clarity is needed on what constitutes the distinction.

Above all, we at the Chamber support adoption of an ordinance that reflects our community standards and is straightforward enough to be understood and followed by a typical business owner. We hope you will join us in advocating for such at the City Council hearing Aug. 20.

Never attended a meeting before and not sure what to expect? Get in touch with Governmental Affairs Director Molly Kern, and she’ll get you oriented.

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