Wednesday, June 12

California City Reduces Sign Fees to Encourage Permanent Sign Installation

For many business owners, choosing office signs and other advertisements can be a big decision. However, in Atascadero, CA, this choice may now be a little easier: signage costs in the city have been temporarily reduced in an attempt to clean up non-permitted signs throughout the area.

For the last two years, the City Council of Atascadero has reportedly been receiving numerous complaints about temporary signs, such as sandwich boards, flags and banners. Finally, on Tuesday, February 24, the council unanimously approved short-term changes to its fee schedule, to encourage businesses to use official signs.

Under the usual regulations, those looking to install a permanent sign must pay $450 for a building permit, as well as an additional $200 for a signage administrative use permit for signs that are oversized or otherwise outside city rules. Starting March 1, this will be reduced to $50 for permanent signs and a $100 flat fee for the signage administrative use permit. The reduced fees will be offered for 18 months.

The temporary change is the result of recent community outreach efforts, in which businesses reported that the city’s permanent signage fees often caused them to choose cheaper, temporary signs instead of permanent ones. However, city planners say that most of these temporary signs these businesses are using don’t conform to city rules. For this reason, further compliance measures, such as new violation fees, could be discussed at a future council meeting.

However, the reduced signage fees could be enough to encourage many business owners to make the switch to permanent signs. Unlike sandwich boards and posters, research has shown that permanent signs are significantly more effective at drawing customers and branding businesses.

“I agree that city ordinances allowing too many options, types, sizes, etc for temporary signs can lead to abuse making the city look cluttered and disorganized,” said Mike Butler, owner of Landmark Sign Company. “We certainly would want businesses to make the commitment to their business and city and customers by investing in permanent signage.

The new fee program and other sign outreach measures are detailed on the city’s new Improve Atascadero Signage Campaign website, The new site, which launched Friday, February 27, contains everything from local building codes and forms for sign installation to answers to frequently asked questions about the new programs.

“There has to be a healthy balance between allowances for temporary signs that are appropriate for the city/area and the ability and affordability of permanent signs. Cities need to have rules and fees supportive of business growth,” said Butler.

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