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Commission Studies Alcohol Sales, On-Site Sign Ordinances

Kendra Ablaza - Staff Writer

January 29, 2013 – At a January 17 study session, the Long Beach Planning Commission began its review of two issues: the framework for the Alcohol Nuisance Abatement Ordinance (ANAO); and on-site sign regulations.

If the ANAO is approved, qualifying beverage establishments would lose their “grandfathered” status, or legal right to follow the laws established at the time the business opened. Instead, the business would switch to “deemed approved” status and can operate without a conditional use permit under ANAO. If the business was established after 1987, then it would need a conditional use permit, according to Becky Blair, chair of the planning commission.

However, the city could also add or modify performance standards or revoke the establishment’s license to sell alcohol if it does not agree with these standards, which is something that cannot be done if the establishment maintains “grandfathered” status. Staff recommends that the ordinance first be implemented north of Del Amo Boulevard in the 8th and 9th Council Districts.

The commission is also discussing revisions to on-site sign regulations in the current zoning ordinance. The revisions aim to adopt design standards and update new graphics standards for signs throughout the city.

Major items in the existing code that aim to be corrected include: changing and adjusting signs exempt from sign permits to eliminate problems; prohibiting problem signs, such as air blown signs, and promotional sail, or feather, -type banner and flag signs, as seen in car dealership lots; eliminating problematic regulations on electronic message center signs; allowing more creativity for projecting (or blade) signs that usually are used on store fronts; and formatting the sign ordinance’s code into major divisions to make it easier to use.

The commission heard comments from residents about these “problem properties” during the study session. For example, one issue was that some liquor stores display signs are not very attractive.

Blair said new liquor stores have to comply with the design standards, but those grandfathered in don’t.

“[We need to] set design standards and upgrade the design standards for the corridor as time changes,” Blair said. “Certainly we want things to look professional for visitors and residents.”

The commission’s next study session is February 5 at 5 p.m. Blair said study sessions help the commission get information to businesses and the general public so they can participate in the decision making process of changing an ordinance. The staff makes those changes, then returns to the planning commission for another study or moves on with a recommendation to the city council.