City, chamber hope to stop signs |

City, chamber hope to stop signs

South Lake Tahoe has a ban on temporary signs, but considering the number that can be seen from U.S. Highway 50, the question is does anybody know?

“The enforcement of the ordinance, which bans temporary signs has gone unenforced for the last two years,” said Pete MacRoberts, president of the South Lake Tahoe Lodging Association.

City Planner Gary Marchio said the city lost funding for sign enforcement during a downsizing of city staff two years ago, a situation that has allowed for the seemingly ubiquitous use of temporary signs.

But the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce and the Lodging Association are hoping to stop this through education.

The sign ordinance established in June 1994 is 52 pages and filled with jargon, making it difficult to understand, said Jim Foff, board member for the lodging association

“I think what we need to do is clarify and simplify the sign ordinance by coming up with a pamphlet that everyone can understand,” Foff said.

Officials believe that 80 percent to 90 percent of the business community should respond favorably to the ordinance, once the regulation is made clear.

“The biggest thing is nobody knows what the sign ordinance is,” Foff said.

While the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency has sign regulations for the entire Lake Tahoe Basin, they are not as strict as those set by the city.

Even though the city has not enforced its own law for the last two years, TRPA will not step in.

“We would like to be as helpful as we can if there is anything we can do to help (TRPA) would do it, but it is a city law,” said Pam Drum, public relations director for TRPA.

The Chamber of Commerce and Lodging Association only intend to educate business owners.

“We don’t intend on being the enforcement arm of the city or the TRPA, ” said Duane Wallace, executive director for the chamber of commerce.

The possibility of future enforcement of the sign ordinance is still under question and would need to be approved by the City Council, Mayor Tom Davis said.

Although Davis supports the sign ordinance, he is sympathetic to the needs of business owners.

“I don’t want the city to go out and drop the handle on these businesses tomorrow. It’s an educational process,” he said.

The Lodging Association plans on paying for the creation and distribution of a tri-fold informational packet, which condenses and simplifies the rules of the sign ordinance and intends to start mailing the packets to business owners by December, Foff said.

Temporary signs that are exempt from the rule include real estate signs and political signs for up to 90 days, Davis added.

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