City May Put Stop to Sign Spinners

Schitzophonics SD LIVE Casbah (14)
John Audley

The Vista Planning Commission will meet Tuesday night at 7 p.m. to review a proposed amendment to their current sign ordinance that would ban on sign twirlers and vehicle-mounted signs.

The North County Times reported that city planner Patsy Chow said the proposed changes would make it easier for businesses to comply with the existing sign policy.

A written report showed that under the new ordinance “mobile billboards,” which is defined as a vehicle whose primary purpose is to advertise a business, would be banned, in addition to the sign spinners. If the amendment passes the planning commission, it will still be legal for a delivery truck to drive through Vista with advertisements painted on the side. However, such vehicles as the Red Bull cars, which are used purely for advertisement purposes, would no longer be permitted.

The proposed changes would help “avoid visual clutter, distractions for motorists and degradation to the aesthetics of the community,” according to the language of the new ordinance.

Many businesses are worried about the proposed amendment. Liberty Tax--which has over 2,000 franchises nationwide and 25 in San Diego County--would most likely lose customers if these new regulations are approved. A large part of their marketing strategy includes human sign spinners.

Daw Mariani--owner of Liberty Tax Service at 965 S. Santa Fe Ave.--told the North Country Times that “roughly 85 percent of my business comes in because they’ve seen my waver out there.”

Mariani also expressed concern about what this ban may do to the already high unemployment rate, she said, “it’s the underemployed who will come to work and will do that [sign waving], so it will also impact the community.”

While, many local business owners are upset about the proposed amendment. Chow argues that the change to the ordinance will make sure businesses are in compliance with existing sign codes and aren’t finding loopholes by having “off-site signage". The proposed changes would also hope to increase safety and prevent distractions to drivers.

The city had planned to crack down on signs violating the current ordinance for over a year, but unfortunately the city workers who were supposed to lead the investigation were laid off. Vista’s plan of action before the layoffs had been to visit the businesses and fine those who were not in compliance with sign regulations.

In 2008, code enforcement officers had gone around Vista to take pictures of those businesses not in compliance. Over 800 illegal signs were found during the 2008 investigation. Now, the city only imposes fines for the illegal signs on those businesses, which residents complain about.

The Vista Planning Commission’s vote tonight very well may result in sign spinners folding up their signs and searching for new jobs--and in many businesse's cases developing new marketing strategies.

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