Appeal of ARC’s October 3, 2016 Approval of Discovery SLO’s Request For A Marquee Sign And Other Exceptions From the Sign Regulations (Submitted October 13, 2016) ARC Decisions: Staff was unable to to make the findings necessary to approve three “wall signs” on one elevation and recommended removal of the neon lit raised letter sign to reduce clutter. The ARC decided to let this sign remain. Staff recommended reducing the marquee sign projection from 6’ - 6” down to 5’ - 4”. The ARC again decided to leave the 6’ - 6” projection as is. Staff asked the ARC to discuss whether the proposed marquee sign is appropriate with the Downtown Commercial District and was asked to establish appropriate marquee size and illumination. The ARC felt the marquee sign was appropriate and did not make changes to the size or illumination.
Appellant Comments: The appellant agrees with staff in that there are too many signs and that the raised letter sign should be eliminated. The appellant also agrees with staff that the marquee, if it remains, should overhang the sidewalk no more than 2/3rd’s of the width of the sidewalk or 5’ - 4”.
However, the appellant would like to go further than staff in recommending that the total sign area should be reduced from 352 sq.ft. down to the 200 sq.ft. maximum allowed per tenant. This could be achieved by eliminating the marquee sign altogether and replacing it with a conventional 170 sq.ft. wall sign. In exchange for this 170 sq.ft. wall sign, we are recommending that the two cocktail glass signs totaling 82 sq.ft. should also be removed.
The ARC argued for more signs because they claimed there is more than one tenant in this bar/nightclub/bowling alley facility. We disagree with this line of reasoning. Supposing Discovery SLO has chosen to sublet to additional tenants. Then what is to prevent other downtown tenants to also sublet thereby increasing their sign entitlements? We are opposed to the cocktail glass signs because these are the kind of honky-tonk signs one would find in a tenderloin district. We acknowledge that this is their logo but it is already featured on the facility’s entry doors. We are opposed to the marquee sign because of our concern that, having established this precedent, this sign type could be replicated all over downtown. ARC argued that the other 5-6 nightclub venues downtown do not have dedicated performance areas and are therefore not entitled to a marquee sign. We find this to be a very flimsy argument that could be easily refuted by SLO Brew or by the Frog & Peach Pub. These two pubs feature different live performances on a daily basis (see below) and both have dedicated performance areas.
In summary, we are arguing that these multiple sign exceptions constitute a grant of special privilege toward the tenant and property owner. We recommend this project be sent back to the ARC with direction from City Council.
C-D Zone Internally illuminated cabinet signs prohibited
Total No. of Signs: 4 per tenant space Max. Cumulative Sign Area Per Tenant: 200 sq. ft. Pole signs prohibited
Article III Prohibited Signs
Back-lit Translucent Awning Signs: Any sign located on an awning that is translucent or semi-transparent and illuminated from a light source under or within the awning.
Metal logo sign/rainscreen (back-lit)55.5 sq.ft.(cocktail glass)
Raised logo sign (neon)26.25 sq.ft.(cocktail glass) Raised letters (neon)87.75 sq.ft. Awning sign 1 (back-lit)7.5 sq.ft.(on edge of awning) Awing sign 2 (back-lit)23 sq.ft.(on edge of awning) Total sign area200 sq.ft.
Marquee sign (neon)152 sq.ft.
Marquee sign projects 6’ - 6” into sidewalk. Staff recommended 5’ - 4” instead (2/3rds width of sidewalk)
No interior illumination is proposed for the portion of the sign that is the marquee. Raised letter sign: Staff recommended removal to avoid clutter.
2016: We Want To Repeal the Downtown Height Ordinance
“The 2007 amendment to the “Downtown Height Ordinance” states as follows:
“Bring back alternatives for moderately increasing the downtown building height and intensity limits…” The Conceptual Plan for the City’s Center, on the other hand, urges us to “reserve in general the existing building height patterns of two and three stories; identify opportunities for higher buildings as architectural accents, define where upper story setbacks should be required.” As a result of this amendment, the City has in its pipeline six tall buildings, or “architectural accents” if you will, which exceed 2 - 3 stories in height. One project is proposed to be 75 feet tall (Santa Rosa Street Infill), one project is proposed to be 60 feet tall (Fremont Square) and 4 projects will be at or near 50 feet height (San Luis Square, Monterey Place, Garden Street Terraces, and the Chinatown Project). If this trend continues most of our buildings downtown will become “architectural accents”.
Permit us to cite one of many reasons why we prefer buildings no higher than 40-50 feet tall. “Santa Monica Architects For A Responsible Tomorrow” otherwise known as SMART,(see: http://smdp.com/santa-monica-low-rise-city/152599) has long advocated for a low-rise city — that is, a city primarily with buildings no taller than four stories. SMART gives three reasons for this. First, because of climate change, all buildings should be installing solar panel arrays on their roofs. But tall buildings prevent their lower neighbors from getting their photo-voltaic sunlight. Second, in low-rise buildings, the rooftop supply available for solar energy is inevitably more in line with the energy demands of the building than it is for mid- or high-rises. And third, low-rise buildings are more survivable in the event of a catastrophic earthquake when the city will be limping along at reduced water and power availability.
It is now time that we, the citizens of San Luis Obispo, have a say in this matter. Please place on the November ballot an advisory vote that would ask the question: Are you in favor of, or opposed to, repealing the City’s current 2007 amendment to the “Downtown Height Ordinance”?
Multistory residential buildings going up in downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood and other Los Angeles neighborhoods have been hailed by backers as a way to ease the city's housing crunch while getting more people to live close to public transit. But increasingly, those projects have also sparked a backlash from community groups who say those developments are too big, cause too much traffic congestion and stray from the city's planning rules.
To critics, the burst of multistory residential buildings is undermining their quality of life. They say many of those projects were approved because elected officials granted exceptions to the city's planning requirements — or changed the general plan for a single project. The Coalition To Preserve LA must gather over 60,000 signatures to qualify its “Neighborhood Integrity Initiative” for the November 8, 2016 ballot.
Save Our Downtown’s Arguments Against Mid-rises & High-rises In SLO and Against Increasing the 75 Foot Downtown Building Height Limit per the SLO Chamber’s recommendation (see the November 2, 2015 Chamber News article)
Loss of small town ambiance and associated reduction of tourist dollars (as the small town ambiance is a major draw for tourists) Loss of sunlight on the sidewalks and public spaces (which is compounded by cool ambient temperatures 6-8 months out of the year) Loss of views of the surrounding hills Loss of historic resources (due to economic pressures to replace low-rise historic properties with high-rise buildings) Wind tunnel effect Loss of solar access to adjoining buildings Will overwhelm landmark buildings (such as the Fremont Theater) Inadequate infrastructure (to accommodate significant increase in density) Will overwhelm both vehicular and pedestrian traffic Will drive up rents and drive out diversity (i.e., franchises and chain stores that can afford the high rents will replace locally-owned businesses) Complicates evacuation plans in the event of a flood downtown Will saturate the market for downtown housing (particularly housing lacking on-site parking and open space amenities) “Buy in” not likely from the residents of SLO Significant increase in housing downtown will not be compatible with the city’s current emphasis on entertainment (with the increase of noise and crime usually associated with entertainment districts)
These neighborhood groups are asking the City to stop accepting, processing and approving projects which are “spot amendments” contrary to the General Plan. This Initiative will restore the duty of the City to comprehensively plan for the physical development of the City concerning water resources, storm water and sewage system capacity as well as fire and public safety response time needs.
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