The San Diego County Board of Supervisors tentatively agreed Wednesday to amend the county's zoning ordinance and sections of the county code to allow community and special event signs and banners along county right-of-ways in unincorporated areas, such as Ramona.
The flags are currently banned, but community groups have been asking for the prohibition to be repealed so they can promote their neighborhoods.
"Any business owner will tell you that signage is very important to their business, and I think it's true for the cities and the communities, and it's also important for the unincorporated areas," Supervisor Bill Horn said. "Signs bring new visitors, and visitors bring money -- and that's pretty simple."
The emblems would be similar to those in the city of San Diego that promote the Chargers and Aztecs and which are attached to poles along Friars Road near Qualcomm Stadium, or special events like Comic-Con International and the Rock'n'Roll Marathon along Broadway downtown.
"Driving in any city you'll see a lot of distinctive signs that welcome you to Escondido or San Marcos or are guidelines to places of interest, so I think this is a good move to allow the unincorporated areas to have that same opportunity," Horn said.
The proposal -- which requires a final vote on Jan. 29 -- would also allow the hanging of banners across streets, like the ones above Mission Gorge Road in Santee to promote events.
In the unincorporated county, such signs could point the way to business districts or places of interest, promote special events and welcome tourists. They would have to be installed in such a way that would not create road hazards, according to county staffers.
County staffers said allowing community-oriented signage may encourage revitalization of town center areas to strengthen neighborhoods, expand local employment opportunities, and establish or enhance a sense of place by guiding visitors to these areas.
"The new sign and banner ordinance is going to help to distinguish the unique characteristics of each of the unincorporated communities," board Chairwoman Dianne Jacob said, adding it could help promote points of interest like boutique wineries and other agricultural endeavors.
Each organization that wants to install signs or banners would have to go through a site plan review, which would require an initial deposit of between $3,000 and $8,000, depending on the scope of the project.
The applicant would be charged a $125 permit fee under the proposal. The county would make those who receive permits responsible for arranging installation, maintenance, repair of any damage, removal and liability. The signage would have to comply with community design and zoning guidelines.
Business advertising would be prohibited, except for 20 percent of space allowed for special event sponsors. The signs would have to be set at least 500 feet apart and at least 150 feet from an intersection.
-City News Service
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