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CITY MAY SUBSIDIZE COST OF SIGN APPEALS.

Byline: Angela M. Lemire Staff Writer

City contingency funds might be tapped to alleviate some financial pressures of small-business owners, who face citations as the deadline nears to meet sign ordinance regulations.

City planners have drawn up a subsidy program that would offset two fees for businesses and property owners with signs that don't conform to the new standards.

The first would provide $415 toward the city's application fee for a sign variance to keep existing signs. The second would subsidize $1,040 in legal costs to appeal administrative decisions on variance requests, planning manager Conal McNamara said.

The council will consider the proposed subsidies at its 6:30 p.m. meeting tonight in City Hall. If approved, each funding mechanism would require a $25,000 transfer from the city's contingency fund, for a total of $50,000, McNamara wrote in a memo to council members.

Council members requested at their Sept. 14 meeting that a subsidy program be created after more than 20 small-business owners spoke against the sign ordinance and others worried about its financial impact.

Although the sign ordinance's enforcement will begin Nov. 13, its approval took place in 1990. The City Council at that time voted to delay enforcement nine years, to give business owners time to prepare, finance new signs and find other ways to heighten their businesses' visibility.

Of the businesses affected by the sign ordinance, about 76 percent have complied, according to city officials. Many received assistance through city sponsored programs to have new signs designed for their business at no cost or receive low-interest loans from local banks, they said. In his recommendation to the council, McNamara warns members that subsidizing appeal fees would benefit applicants, but would not provide applicants with an incentive to work with staff members to reach a compromise. Although $50,000 would be set aside to subsidize small-business owners, the actual impact on the city is not known, he said.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Sep 28, 1999
Words:323
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