Friday, January 23, 2009

Revised Sign Ordinance – CPC-2009-0008-CA

The following AIA/LA position letter was submitted for the record at the January 22nd City of Los Angeles Planning Commission Meeting.

January 22, 2009
Honorable Bill Roschen
Honorable Members of the City Planning Commission
Department of City Planning
City of Los Angeles
200 North Spring Street, Mail Stop 395
Los Angeles, California 90012-2601
Dear Commission President Roschen and Members of the Commission:
The Los Angeles Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA/LA) supports the intent of the draft Revised Sign Ordinance. The Draft is a comprehensive indicator of a new and welcome approach to regulate signage. In particular, AIA/LA supports the draft ordinance's elimination of the off-site signage definition, supports the continued ban on new billboards per the 2002 ordinance, and supports prohibitions on digital media, except as may be allowed in sign districts. AIA/LA, however, also urgently recommends that the Commission instruct the Department to convene a panel of design experts, or a consultant team with design skills, to work with staff and the public to further review, illustrate, and as appropriate make recommendations for the refinement of the sign type standards.
Citizens, designers, property owners, and managers need to be able to visualize the signs that will be allowed and the standards that will regulate them. Without visualizing the code, AIA/LA is concerned that the ordinance, despite good intentions, will be restrictive in ways that are unnecessary (for example, no allowance for signs over 35'), and expansive in ways that are not intended (for example, unintended incentivizing of more temporary signs).
Towards the goal of visual understanding, AIA/LA plans to immediately organize a public discussion where Los Angeles designers will immerse themselves in the proposed language, discuss its pros and cons, and make recommendations for consideration by this commission and others. It is essential that this type of visualization also be an integral part of the City's internal efforts as well as public outreach. Although City staff has been directed to have this ordinance ready for adoption by March 2009, the AIA/LA encourages the Commission to utilize the full six months available to make certain that the Los Angeles sign ordinance is visually vetted. A picture is worth a thousand words.
We look forward to contributing to a visualization process that will allow for better consideration of regulations that critically impact the environmental design of Los Angeles.
Very truly yours,

John Kaliski, AIA
AIA Los Angeles
cc:            Directors, AIA/LA
            S. Gail Goldberg, AICP, Director of Planning

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