BY TREVOR CADDEL

Record Gazette

The approval of a digital monument sign for the city of Banning has seen many obstacles on its path to the City Council, but was met with great optimism as council members debated the merits of the potential project last week.

The Planning Commission did not initially support the measure, as reported in the city council agenda on June 11, detailing the commision’s stance that “an Electronic Message Center is incompatible and does not promote a complimentary land commercial use as compared with the existing business in combination with the anticipated development of the Downtown Commercial Zoning District. Furthermore, the Planning Commission finds that the proposed message center will not meet the needs of the City’s residents, as it does not provide the highest and best use for the Downtown Commercial Zoning District.”

The recommendation for denial, according to Banning Community Development Director Adam Rush, stemmed from the Planning Commission’s concern that more signs like these could also potentially pop up and pollute the city with unnecessary and unwanted advertisements.

Councilman Don Peterson was the first to offer his support to the project.

Peterson said that this was a project that he and former mayor George Moyer had started about two years ago in hopes to bring awareness to business in the city of Banning.

“We got nothin’ to tell people we’re here,” Peterson said. “We need to wake people up and say ‘stop by, we’re a friendly city.’”

Councilman Dave Happe echoed Peterson’s enthusiasm by addressing the Planning Commission’s concern that other signs could pop up when he said, “I have to agree with Councilman Peterson. This is a tremendous opportunity for a public service. The argument that they’re gonna show up everywhere just doesn’t hold water to me. We’d be doing a major disservice if we agreed with the planning commission.”

Councilwoman Daniela Andrade made it a point to chime in before public comment to express here agreement with bot Happe and Peterson.

“I would like to see a bigger sign so we can draw attention to our community,” Andrade said.

Her comment was in regard to the initial proposal for approval offered by city staff, which limited the sign to 30 feet high.

When asked by Mayor Art Welch for a comparison of how large the sign would be, the potential future owner Alex Garcia responded by saying, “It will be about the same size as the Beaumont sign, which I own, maybe 10 feet shorter.”

Garcia said that the sign will be about 70 to 80 feet in height and will meet Cal-Trans requirements for electronic displays, not to exceed 1,200 square-feet for the advertising space.

“I don’t see what the hiccup is. I’d love to build a sign for your city,” Garcia said.

According to Garcia, an agreement with the Chamber of Commerce outlines benefits to local businesses, including discounted rates for advertisement.

He said, according to the OAAA (Outdoor Advertising Association of America) a 30 percent increase in revenue for local businesses is constant with their research.

“We’re not gonna spend a million dollars and not do our research,” Garcia said.

When Happe asked Garcia about a potential site, Garcia informed the council that he already had a location on the corner of Livingston Street and 6th Street in Banning and was eager to get the approval from the council so he could order the sign and begin the process of permitting and preconstruction.

After brief concern from the public was addressed with regard to the brightness of the sign, council members amended staff’s proposal to authorize the electronic outdoor advertising sign to allow for the requirements recommended by Garcia.

According to development director Rush the original proposal did not contain the specifics outlined by Garcia at the City Council meeting so he left them in accordance with current city ordinance, but did encourage councilmembers to take amendment actions to better guide future action.

The council unanimously approved the amended approval for the sign and Garcia will now be able to proceed with the next steps in getting the Monument Sign built for the City of Banning.

Staff Writer Trevor Caddel may be reached at tcaddel@recordgazette.net or by calling (951) 849-4586 x117.

Staff Writer Trevor Caddel may be reached at (951) 849-4586 x117.

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