City Council to Revisit Sign Regulations

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In an effort to clarify the meaning of some existing city ordinances and to ensure the protection of first amendment rights, sign regulations were amended for local businesses at a Berkeley City Council meeting Tuesday.

The revisions, proposed by the city's Planning and Development Department, amended two ordinances concerning sign regulations and public property.

The proposal to revise the ordinances was unanimously approved by the council, said Councilmember Gordon Wozniak.

Vivian Kahn, a planning consultant who was contacted by the city to help draft the revisions, said changes to the ordinances clarified the rules' language so they would be easier to use and understand. These revisions apply to new signs, but do not affect existing ones unless changes are made to them, she said.

"It will make it easier for businesses to understand what the requirements are," Kahn said.

While most of the revisions reorganized the wording of sign regulations, changes were also made to improve the city's ability to comply with the constitutional right to freedom of speech.

"We (want to) make sure we allow ample room for people to express themselves," said Councilmember Laurie Capitelli.

Although there were no changes to the proposal in the meeting, Capitelli said the council would consider additional revisions in later meetings to address council members' concerns with current rules.

One such concern dealt with the use of A-frame signs, triangular shaped portable signs usually placed on sidewalks, which are currently only used in West Berkeley. Kahn said the council discussed whether the ability to use these signs should be expanded throughout the city.

She added that further revisions addressing these concerns will likely be presented to the council early next year.


Contact Stephanie Baer at [email protected]

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