"Our sign code citywide is really old," Newport Beach assistant
city manager Sharon Wood said. "We permit bigger signs than they do
on Beach Boulevard in Huntington Beach and maybe on Harbor Boulevard
in Costa Mesa."
Since last fall, the city has held several public workshops --
including two last week -- to get input on how to update the sign
code, which was last rewritten in 1998. Proposed changes include
reducing the permitted size of signs, new requirements for so-called
"cabinet" signs that are lighted from inside, and a ban on roof signs
and old-fashioned pole-mounted signs.
Some exceptions will be allowed by the new code. For example, in
Mariner's Mile, most of the buildings are set back from the road, so
small, low signs would be hard for people driving by to see, Wood
While some people said they thought the cabinet signs look tacky,
they may be more affordable for small businesses, so the city is
proposing to tighten the guidelines to make those signs look nicer.
Once the city prohibits pole and roof signs, they can require those
that already exist be taken down after 15 years.
But the new code also includes a provision for "heritage signs"
that have been around for years and are widely recognized by
Newporters, such as the fish atop The Crab Cooker sign on the
"That's just dear to the community," Wood said.
While not many people have expressed strong feelings about the
sign code, business leaders in Corona del Mar have been involved from
the beginning because they've also been working on a villagewide
face-lift. One element of that -- landscaped medians on the Coast
Highway -- is just getting started.
"Our main concern is that we have all kinds of different
beautification programs that we've developed, urging people to
upgrade their business storefronts," said Linda Leonhard, executive
director of the Corona del Mar Chamber of Commerce.
"Just to kind of represent the quaint village atmosphere, it would
be wonderful to see the signs change along with that," she added.
After one more pass through a committee that's working on the sign
code, the revisions will go to a public hearing by the Planning
Commission in May.
* ALICIA ROBINSON covers government and politics. She may be
reached at (714) 966-4626 or by e-mail at alicia.robinson