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Business Owners Ask Council to Modify Strict Requirements of Sign Ordinance

Business owners fear that strict regulations limiting the type of advertising signs they can use within city limits will hurt their livelihood.

Council members discussed varying agenda items during Monday’s meeting, ranging from the city’s far-reaching sign ordinance to the adoption of a weed abatement program.

Under Gilroy’s current sign ordinance, flags, pennants, balloons, streamers, lighted signs and “objects designed to move” are prohibited in the city, while portable signs, banners, window and A-frame signs have restrictions on how often and where they can be displayed.

Three local auto-dealership owners spoke before the council in support of regulating some signage, but worried that extensive regulations could harm their ability to bring in business.

Leonard Harrington, owner of South County Nissan Hyundai, urged the council to look at auto-dealer sign ordinances in other cities’ and adjust Gilroy’s accordingly.

“We are in an extremely tough retail environment,” he said. “We have to compete with dealers in San Jose and it’s tough. We need to be competitive.”

Any action by the council, Councilman Peter Arellano said, should be to limit the ordinances and allow businesses to make an income.

Councilman Peter Arellano said any action taken by the council should be to limit the scope of ordinance and allow businesses to make an income.

“If auto-dealers want a dinosaur or a gorilla on their roof, let them have it,” he said.

A future study session will be open to business owners who wish to express their opinion on how best to balance aesthetics with advertising, Mayor Al Pinheiro said. A specific time and date has yet to be confirmed.

In other news, the council unanimously approved the establishment of a list of properties identified through the county's. The program aims to rid the city of weeds that have become a “nuisance” and possible fire hazard by ordering specified property owners to clear their land of the invasive plant or face charges.

Moe Kumre, the program coordinator for the county’s program, informed the council that when a property is added to the list, it remains there for three years regardless of ownership.

“There are no fees associated if the property is maintained for those consecutive years,” he said. “We are going to make sure the property owners are keeping up with their obligation to keep their property fire-safe. After three years of compliance, [their property] is removed from the [list].”

Below are a couple additional highlights from Monday’s meeting:

  • The council unanimously approved a 50-year lease agreement for the new Gilroy library,. The agreement is between the city and the Santa Clara County Library District Joint Powers Authority. The lease, staff said, will allow the city to get first rights on any community facility rooms after the library establishes its own activities. The library has also agreed to maintain the interior and exterior of the property as well as pay for some of the building’s maintenance. The city’s commitment to the facility is to maintain the grounds. Staff also reported that the ongoing lease contract with the library will contribute a total of $6 million in payments to the city over a 30 year period.
  • The council approved a new annexation process in which property owners along Santa Teresa Blvd. who wish to become part of the Landscape Maintenance Community Facilities District can join with a signature. Teresa Mak, a development engineer for the city, said the simplified, cheaper process allows property owners to utilize the city’s landscape maintenance services while paying a tax of $91 per year for each parcel of property.

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