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Sign of the times – Rocklin extends relaxed ordinance on business signage

By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
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If you drive around Rocklin you won’t see too many of what could be described as the wavy inflatable arm-flailing tube man outside businesses. They attract attention but also fines from the city. Nicole Felix, owner of OMG! Yogurt on Blue Oaks and Lonetree boulevards, put one up for her new business opening but the city’s sign ordinance enforcer didn’t like it. “I understand there need to be rules because people will take advantage,” Felix said. Felix is happy a new sign ordinance was approved by the city council last Tuesday that would extend relaxed rules for business signs in Rocklin including allowing temporary signs, portable sandwich boards and banners hanging from certain big box stores. The temporary change was extended from last year as a form of economic stimulus from the city. Rocklin Area Chamber of Commerce President Tammy Cooper said about 60 Rocklin businesses benefited economically by the temporary regulations and wanted the extension for another year. “One business owner indicated his December revenue had increased 32 percent because of the increased signage (allowed),” Copper wrote in a letter to the council. However, Cooper reported many businesses were not aware of the sign ordinance reprieve even though there has been outreach by the city and the chamber. “Others were somewhat confused about the specific types and sizes of signs allowed,” Cooper said. Businesses are urged to reach out to the city or the chamber for clarification so they can benefit from the temporary change. Felix said even with the relaxed rules, the city has been a stickler on two of her signs including the open sign in her window. “I’m not feeling the love and support from the city when the code enforcer is here twice in the first seven days I was open,” Felix said. Felix said she felt demoralized after being threatened with a $600 fine on the last trip. “Businesses need to feel that the city is going to stand behind them and support them,” Felix said. “After seven days I went, ‘what did I just do?’ There are plenty of other cities that would love to have me open a business.” Felix said her loyalty as a resident will keep her in Rocklin but she wants the city to be a better partner. Assistant City Manager Terry Richardson explained how his staff views the temporary sign ordinance after recommending it be extended for only six months. “Allowing the temporary signs is overall detrimental to the aesthetics of the community,” Richardson told the city council. Richardson said if businesses find success with temporary signs, they should work with the city to create a more permanent monument sign. Rocklin Signs by Design business owner Don Prather, who has especially benefited from the new ordinance, said his customers aren’t clamoring for permanent signs that can cost up to $15,000. “I have not found a company not wanting to put up a permanent sign because they have the opportunity to do temporary signage,” Prather said. “They may delay it for economic reasons but it’s a temporary situation.” Prather said it is common place for new businesses to get frustrated with the sign ordinances in Rocklin. “A new business owner gets discouraged if they get a violation with a fine just as they are open for business because they haven’t read the whole sign ordinance and don’t understand it fully,” Prather said. Councilwoman Kathy Lund said the city needs to make more permanent changes to allow for new technology. “I’ve heard form businesses that aren’t happy about the way the sign ordinance is,” Lund said. “It took us forever to put the sign ordinance together but times change.” Council members are expected to partner with members of the Rocklin Planning Commission to look at the issue later this year.