New ordinance will also affect residential signs

Sean C. Morgan

While the impact on commercial properties has been the main topic of discussion, residential signs also will be affected by the new city ordinance regulating signs, which takes effect Jan. 13.

The ordinance will affect temporary signs the most, said Community Development Director Carol Lewis. Temporary signs are those that should be taken down within 60 days.

The ordinance spells out that temporary signs may only be placed on private property with the property owner’s permission, and they are banned in the public right of way.

The three types of signs most likely to be impacted are garage sale signs, campaign signs and real estate signs, Lewis said.

“It’s never been really legal, but it’s never been spelled out specifically not to be done,” she said of such signs.

“Signs in the ground are fine as long as they are on the private side (with permission of the property owner).”

The ban on garage sale signs on utility poles has been clear, she said, but the utilities didn’t enforce it, and the police have usually had more important things to do.

The Oregon Jamboree places temporary signs on utility poles, Lewis said, but it does it with the permission of the utility and the City Council.

The city’s code enforcement officer will begin handling illegally placed signs, Lewis said.

The city has had problems in the past with temporary signs placed in open areas, such as Oak Terrace and Highway 228, which is a mix of private and public land, Lewis said. Signs are illegal on the public parts of it, but the private land may be used with permission.

The planning office at City Hall can help identify property owners in such areas for those wishing to put up temporary signs, Lewis said.

Garage sale signs may be put up on the bulletin board on Les Schwab property near the intersection of 18th and Long, Lewis said. She said she would like to see more such boards placed elsewhere to help direct people to garage sales.

Some churches have enough space for the boards, she said, but it does require a permit for anything larger than 4 by 8 feet.

Among other changes, the ordinance clearly restricts the sizes of signs on houses, Lewis said. The ordinance has always allowed signs that identify the occupant and addresses, but the First Amendment prohibits the city from regulating signs based on their content.

Now the city will allow permanent residential signs of up to 6 inches by 18 inches, Lewis said.

Total, a residential property may have up to 60 square feet of temporary signs, but each may be no larger than 6 square feet, which means a total of 10 6-square-foot signs are permitted, Lewis said. A resident is most likely to reach that total during an election campaign.

“We’ve never had a problem with oversignage on private property,” Lewis said, but one of the main concerns as the new sign ordinance was developed was visual clutter.

This will help prevent the clutter, she said.

Commercial signs exist in residential areas, Lewis said. They are there by conditional use and specifically regulated by the conditional use permit.

Signs also are prohibited from blocking clear vision zones at intersections, she said.

“Where we’ve had problems with signs in residential districts are blanketing, house painting signs,” Lewis said. “They’ll put those anywhere and everywhere.”

The city has had problems finding the people who put those signs up, usually in public rights of way or private property, she said.

For more information, contact the Community Development Department at City Hall at (541) 367-8113 or stop in at 1140 12th Ave.