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City Council Direction
Recommendations 
On numerous occasions over the January-May, 2010 time period, the City Council considered staff recommendations for the Sign Code Update, and then provided the following direction regarding specific aspects of a draft preferred strategy:

Proposed Minor Sign Ordinance Amendments for the Downtown Sign Zone
  • Allow flat-mounted attached signs on buildings adjacent to a freeway to be displayed higher than 30 feet above grade.
  • Identify additional provisions for temporary signage to accommodate art or other temporary displays.
  • Explore creation of a San Pedro Square Sign zone with regulations that reflect the area’s unique character.
  • Retain current sign area regulations: 2.5 square feet per linear foot of occupancy frontage (skyline signs, roof signs and marquees are allowed in addition to this signage).
  • Allow fin signs to project above the top of a building. Allow vertical projecting signs to extend higher and lower on a building (between 15 feet and 70 feet above grade) and allow to project above the top of a building.
  • Allow small animated sign components as part of a larger sign.
  • Allow architectural roof signs as an integral element of the design of a one or two-story building.
  • Make the downtown sign zone coterminous with the downtown core area.

Proposed Minor Sign Ordinance Amendments for Specific Areas or Citywide
  • Allow skyline signs or roof signs on buildings 80 feet or more in height. Allow skyline signs on buildings 50 feet or more in height.
  • Increase the allowed area of fin signs from 10 feet to 20 feet. Increase the maximum display height from 12 feet to 20 feet, and eliminate the requirement that fin signs be located near an entrance.
  • Allow large parcels to integrate signage with architectural landscape features such as a wall or fountain.
  • Allow greater flexibility in the number of signs allow for a multi-tenant occupancy.
  • Allow greater flexibility for relocating attached historic signs.
  • Eliminate restrictions on skyline or roof signs visible from a park or creek.
  • Staff was directed to return with provisions to allow temporary A-frame signs on public sidewalks in all neighborhood business districts and with a mechanism to more proactively enforce regulations for temporary signs.

Supergraphic Signs
North San José and Edenvale Industrial Areas and in the Airport Sign Zone
  • Explore regulations allowing large, temporary banner / supergraphic signs limited to on-site or non-commercial messages in the North San José and Edenvale Industrial areas and in the Airport Sign Zone.

Downtown Sign Zone

  • Supergraphic signs On blank walls. Allow supergraphic signs on the blank walls of buildings (not covering windows or doors) in the Downtown Sign Zone subject to a maximum sign area of 5,000 square feet. Consider increasing the proposed number of signs allowed at any one time to something greater than the five-sign maximum proposed by staff, and consider a longer sign display period than the proposed 60-day maximum. Exempt large public assembly venues from the limitations on the number and duration of signs. Limit signs to on-site or non-commercial messages only. Within 24 months of the effective date of the ordinance, return to the council for reconsideration of the maximum number of signs allowed at any one time.
  • Supergraphic signs In lieu of skyline signs. Allow supergraphic signs on buildings in the Downtown Sign Zone that are less than 75% occupied in lieu of allowed skyline signs. Allow such signs to cover windows of unoccupied building space (provided the windows are located above the 50-foot fire rescue height) and limit signs to on-site or non-commercial messages. Reduce the minimum building height required to qualify for such a supergraphic sign to something less than the 15 stories proposed by staff.

Electronic Digital Signs for Large Ground-Floor Spaces in the Downtown

  • Allow one attached digital sign component for each ground floor occupancy frontage of 100+ linear feet (to a maximum of two signs); or one attached sign for any ground floor occupancy with a total frontage of 150+ linear feet on two or more streets. Allow the area of the digital sign component to be up to 50 square feet and up to 50% of the total sign area. Allow on-site or non-commercial messages only. Develop parameters to address driver distraction and sensitive uses.
  • Provide a sign exception that allows the digital sign component to exceed 50% of the total sign area if the sign achieves specific criteria intended to reflect a high quality of design. Include a presumption that the exception should not be granted to emphasize the importance of the criteria.

Electronic Digital Signs for Assembly Uses
  • Allow Digital Signs for assembly uses with a maximum building occupancy of 500 or more. Link sign area to size of assembly use. Develop regulations to address traffic safety and compatibility with sensitive uses. Allow on-site or non-commercial messages only.
  • Explore options for allowing off-site messages for very large assembly uses
.

Electronic Digital Signs for Specific Commercial Areas
Includes Stevens Creek Boulevard Signage Area, Capitol Expressway Auto Mall Signage Area, and the Proposed Blossom Hill Road Signage Area.
  • Establish a three-year pilot program to allow digital sign components on freestanding signs within a subarea of the Stevens Creek Boulevard Signage Area. Explore ways to allow signs for large auto dealerships with narrow frontages. Allow digital sign component to comprise up to 60% of the total area of a sign. Allow on-site or non-commercial messages only. Develop regulations to address traffic safety and compatibility with sensitive uses.
  • Continue to explore provisions for digital signs in the Capitol Expressway Auto Mall Signage Area, the proposed Blossom Hill Signage Area, along Capitol Corridor near Eastridge and in other appropriate commercial areas.

Freeway Signs
  • Allow freeway signs for shopping centers of 15 acres or more in size that are located within 200 feet of a freeway.
  • Eliminate existing restriction on signs facing freeways.
  • Revise the recommended height limit of 60 feet to ensure that the height regulations take into consideration the elevation of the adjacent freeway.
  • Allow a maximum sign area of 400 square feet. Allow a digital sign component to comprise up to 60% of the total sign area.
  • Develop regulations to address traffic safety and compatibility with sensitive uses.
  • Allow on-site or non-commercial messages only.
  • Explore the ability to have off-site messages for nearby large businesses.
  • Explore alternatives for a design review process with a community meeting for freeway signs that exceed the height and area parameters.

Billboards
  • Retain the existing billboard ban.
  • Explore revisions to current regulations for the relocation of existing legal nonconforming billboards to ensure that they allow for and encourage relocation of billboards from residential areas to more appropriate commercial locations.
  • Explore measures to ensure better maintenance of existing billboards.