Lakewood Sign Ordinance Update

Case: OA-17-001
The City is proposing to update the Sign Ordinance based on feedback from the community and a recent court case


Staff Presentation


Article 2 Procedures And Appeals

Comments & Feedback

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My comments fall into three categories, some may not directly relate to the Planning Commission but certainly to the sign ordinance. I'm definitely not a design or planning expert, so I'm unsure how much I can contribute to the details of size limits, heights, etc. I will say a STRICT size definition WITH an upper limit (regardless of lot size, frontage, building square footage, etc.) must be a major factor in any changes to the code. These limits should include ALL signage regardless of duration or purpose. These would include in those limits such items as:

- branding on business related elements like drive thru menu signage (not the menu, but branding elements visible beyond the immediate customer),

- branding on patios or awnings or sun shades

- temporary signage

- blatantly brand/company recognizable architectural elements (I.e. historically: Yellow arches, barber poles)

A) ENFORCEMENT - Our assertion with documentation (and pictures, etc.) would be the current sign ordinance has NOT been evenly enforced in the last several years. Regardless of the specific details of ANY ordinance, we believe the sole priority would be the fair and consistent enforcement of those details.

B) ADHERENCE TO OVERALL PLANNING - Any/all ordinances should be in compliance or parallel to the City Comprehensive Plan, Corridor Plans, Area Plans and related. So for example, if those plans call for only monument style signs to be erected, then the Sign ordinance details should mirror those same requirements. After all, to achieve the "vision" of say a 2030 Plan, any development or change (in this case) signage needs to be compliant to those plans to achieve the eventual vision desired.

C) APPLICATION PROCESS/APPROVAL - Time here does not allow for the substantial factors we encountered in the installation of our own sign but Front Range Lumber feels the process was arduous. Categorically, I can say the process was not user friendly. As one example, our sign permit was issued on 4/22/14, however, we were still trying to resolve the specific location where we could place the sign as late as mid-July of that year. Very directly, we believe the City's processing of our sign request delayed the project for somewhere over four months. On this narrow matter, I believe I can speak on behalf all of businesses - we aren't asking for favors, we are asking for just a little help. At the risk of preaching, in the City's 2017 finances, I believe sale tax contributed over 44% of all revenue. Signs generate business's sales, those sales generate sales tax revenues. This is literally the hand which feeds the City.

I'll conclude with one example: In a 8/8/16 City communication to us, it was stated Section "has historically and consistently been interpreted in favor of businesses reusing existing sign structures...". My three points above apply:

A) ENFORCEMENT - The code states one thing and the application of the code another. I believe in the face of attempting to assist businesses by this interpretation, it has instead contributed to uneven, unfair and wrongful approvals.

B) ADHERENCE - Simply, if continually allowed to retain existing structure, how can any Comprehensive Plan ever be achieved? Why even bother forming these plans.

C) APPLICATION - My previous contention that larger companies with construction departments have the expertise and the "might" to achieve a "better" sign result than a smaller company without those same resources. Certainly, our experience indicates this.

I am attaching my August 12, 2016 letter to the City. This letter refers to a specific sign, however, since then there have been at least four other "new" signs in our immediate area which were evidently approved by the City, seemingly wholly out-of-code. I can supply more documentation and/or meet with the Commission or staff to discuss anything else the City would desire.

One final note: code enforcement staff should be identified as something different than "officers". During our entire 2014 process, the staff involved consistently identified themselves as a "LPD officer". After the first 3-4 times, it settled down, but the continued representation was as a Lakewood POLICE Department officer (not Lakewood Planning Department). This caused VERY significant angst here as our staff thought I was on the FBI's top ten most wanted list based on the communications and representations from this staff. Not to diminish the importance of code enforcement, but code enforcement is on slightly different level than the police.

02/24/2018 11:28 am
John M. Gunzner
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