Council ponders Poway Road of Cars sign suggestions

By Steve Dreyer

Poway Road of Cars dealers will likely get some, but perhaps not all of the changes they are seeking to the city’s sign ordinance.

Meeting Tuesday night, council members heard mixed public comments on whether advertising banners, light pole banners, pennants and tents should be allowed without time limits along the city’s main retail road. The four council members attending the meeting (Mayor Don Higginson was absent) seemed inclined to allow the eight dealers to try out those advertising options for one year.

Resident Nick Stavros spoke out against changing the sign code to accomodate Poway Road auto dealers. Photos by Beverley Brooks

As to whether dealers should be allowed to use searchlights and ground-level inflatables for up to four weekends per year, the council was split.

Comments offered Tuesday night will be incorporated into

proposed changes to the sign code that will come back to the council in the near future.

In a report to the council, City Manager Penny Riley wrote that her staff had met in recent weeks with auto dealer representatives on the issue of signage.

“The auto dealers believe that City sign regulations need to be changed in order to assist the auto dealerships in promoting their special sales events and to avoid losing sales to other parts of the county…” Riley wrote. Any sign code changes would also apply to 12 other businesses that have city-approved outdoor sign displays, such as Home Depot and Wal-Mart, she said.

The current sign code permits permanent wall signs, permanent freestanding signs and certain temporary signs.

All four councilmembers acknowledged that taxes from auto sales are an important revenue stream for the city and that when dealers do well, so does the city.

Deputy Mayor John Mullin was the strongest proponent for allowing the dealers to try all options, with the exception of searchlights, which Mullin said might be OK once a year.

Councilmembers Jim Cunningham and Dave Grosch said a balance needed to be struck between the needs of the dealers and those of residents living in the area.

Councilman Steve Vaus appeared a bit more skeptical of the perceived benefits of relaxing the sign standards. With several auto dealers in the audience, he asked for evidence that banners, flags and other displays result in increased car sales.

“I never bought a car based on an inflatable,” Vaus said.

Local businessman Kevin McNamara suggested the auto dealers be allowed try out their suggested changes for one year.

Similar sentiments were voiced during the public comment period by resident Nick Stavros, who called the increased use of the requested marketing items “so last century.” Poway dealers should spend more effort increasing their Internet and social medial presence, he said.

Jerry Richardson, who has been selling cars in Poway for over 40 years, said signs, banners, tents and inflatables do work. Current city sign laws “handcuff” Poway dealers, putting them at a competitive disadvantage, he said.

Vince Castro, who this weekend is opening his new Toyota of Poway showroom, said he’d list banners and pole signs at the top of his list of desired changes.

Dealers found support in comments by Old Poway Village retail center owner Kevin McNamara and Poway Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Dolores Canizales.

“Let them try,” McNamara said, “You can always pull it back after a year.”

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Posted by Steve Dreyer on Jan 16 2013. Filed under Featured Story, Local News, Poway. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

4 Comments for “Council ponders Poway Road of Cars sign suggestions”

  1. Joe St. Lucas

    To quote from Bob Emery's Chieftain column in April 2011, "I have never understood the mentality which believes that a giant, inflatable gorilla or cow or Sasquach bigger than a building would induce anyone to make a major purchase such as a car."

  2. Tom Yarnall

    McNamara said it all, "let them try, you can always pull it back after a year". Mr McNamara, are temporary sign regulation changes similar to temporary taxes?
    The fact is, once changes are allowed they will become permanent, so why not just change the code and get on with it. Do it right the first time.
    A little more pizazz on Poway Road will possibly help all merchants draw more customers yielding even more tax revenue
    Joe, could Mr Emery be exaggerating while not understanding marketing
    fundamentals? Could a compromise not be in everyone's best interest?

  3. Joe St. Lucas

    I actually think that sign banners would not be bad. People will get jaded by the constant "BIG SALE TODAY" messages, but overall that shouldn't distract much from the scene. Limit the number of colors available and no glitter.
    However, searchlights are another thing. Some dealers are located next to residential neighborhoods that were there long before the dealers came in. There are restrictions on light pole sizes and illuminations on the car dealers so that they don't interfere (too much) with the neighborhoods. Take a searchlight, or a light on a pole, on a foggy night and you've got another situation where everything is lit up.
    We don't need inflatable animals to sell cars, nor those stupid air-driven whobbly wavey "people" things. Bad enough that we have to endure people spinning signs on every street corner that we can't read and people dressed in gorilla outfits walking up and down poway road trying to sell us Fords.

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