City, TRPA stand together to clean up sign clutter |

City, TRPA stand together to clean up sign clutter

The overabundance of signs has been a problem in South Lake Tahoe for a long time, but now the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency is slated to stand behind a stricter ordinance approved by the city in February.

The TRPA Advisory Planning Commission will meet at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at The Tahoe Seasons Resort.

The ordinance has stricter regulations on temporary signs, which are completely banned except when used both for public service announcements and located in the area between the Chamber of Commerce and Campground by the Lake. The ordinance also has exemptions on permanent signs that will make it easier for business owners to comply by bringing their signs into partial compliance at first and the rest of the sign into compliance within five years.

“The idea is to allow people to bring their signs into compliance over a period of time, and not hit them all at one time,” said John Hitchcock, program manager for scenic thresholds at the TRPA.

The South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce and Lodging Association along with the TRPA and city recently worked together to put out a brochure addressing regulations on temporary signs and sent them out to city businesses.

The hope was that most businesses, once made aware of the ordinance would comply, but without enforcement on a complaint basis only, some are leery of the results.

Charlie McDermid, president of the Lodging Association, was hoping the city would actively enforce the sign ordinance, and offered financial assistance to the city to provide enforcement.

The city, however, declined and stated that it would re-evaluate the situation at the end of the summer, giving some of the smaller business owners, whose only method of advertising is signs, a chance to make adjustments.

Since then, McDermid has complained in the Lodging Association newsletter.

“I’m not looking to pick a fight with the City Council, but I am a businessman who wants to help improve the aesthetics in town for residents as well as visitors,” McDermid said.

While Councilman Tom Davis disagrees with McDermid’s criticisms, saying the city has been very progressive in solving problems, he hopes for some from of enforcement by the end of the summer.

“I hope (the TRPA) has some enforcement mechanism, so they can go out and enforce it basin-wide,” Davis said.

The TRPA is required to enforce temporary signs and the city is required to enforce permanent signs, said City Manager David Childs.

Duane Wallace, executive director for the Chamber of Commerce, said he is confident that by keeping tabs on the issue a solution can be reached.

“Without lodging really pushing on the issue, we don’t think the voluntary compliance would have come about, so we appreciate their efforts, and we will do a lot of education and follow up,” he said.

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