Every few years the owners of Poway Road of Cars auto dealers make a push to have the city’s sign code relaxed a bit. Their latest effort was to be the subject of a City Council workshop Tuesday night, out of which a few proposed modifications will likely be prepared for future council action.
The eight auto sales businesses are in a tough marketing spot. Poway Road is five miles off Interstate 15, putting the dealers at a competitive disadvantage to those further south, and to those in Escondido who enjoy freeway visibility.
There’s no question that auto sales are a big part of Poway’s economic picture. Sales taxes and license fees contribute a large chunk of revenue to the city’s general fund, out of which many services are funded. The dealers also provide good jobs to a lot of local residents. And we’re pleased to note that things appear to be looking up along auto row with the recent opening of one new dealership and the opening this weekend of another, which has moved across the road.
The question is, how far should the council go toward helping this important business segment? Keep in mind also that changes approved for the dealers will apply to other businesses with outdoor display permissions (i.e. Home Depot and Wal-Mart).
Some of the proposals advanced this time around by the dealers make sense. Should suspended banners be allowed? How about banners from light poles and pennants strung between poles? Most likely these would be OK a few weekends each year. Tents? Perhaps. Searchlights and inflatables? Maybe not.
The dealers will say that it’s important that they be allowed to create a festive weekend atmosphere to draw potential buyers. The positive buzz created by balloons, tents, banners, popcorn and hot dogs has been known to convert into signed deals, they insist.
We’re in no position to argue the point; these folks have the research data to support their claims.
Ultimately, the City Council will have to strike a balance between supporting sign code measures intended to maintain Poway’s “City in the Country” feel and helping out the auto dealers who in large part drive the city’s economic engine. We’re confident that balance can be achieved.