Businesses should be allowed to advertise with signs along the freeway even if their property doesn't back up to it, members of the Elk Grove City Council said Wednesday.
The council was discussing the city's , which regulates which businesses can put up signs and how big they can be. Currently, signs can only be 25 feet tall and only businesses with property touching the freeway can put up monument signs along Highway 99 or Interstate 5.
is hoping to build a shopping center near Sheldon Road and Highway 99 that would include a McDonald's, a gas station, a frozen yogurt shop and other tenants, but only if he can advertise along the freeway.
"I don't think anybody in this room or anybody in this city would invest this much money without knowing that it would succeed," Moore told the city council. "I can't risk this [without a freeway sign] if it doesn't work, especially in this economy."
He said he only wants the same rights as the neighboring properties, which border the freeway.
Council Member Sophia Scherman said he should talk with those neighboring property owners and work out a deal to let him build a sign along the freeway.
"I can't turn my head away and say we can't approve this project, because we keep saying we have to bring jobs [to Elk Grove]," Scherman said.
Earlier in the evening, the council discussed economic incentives and heard a recap of recent business openings.
, and several residents spoke at Wednesday's council meeting pleading for it to be left alone.
"Our concern is not what's going to happen today, but what's going to happen years from now," said Shirley Peters, president of the Greater Sheldon Road Estates Homeowners Association (GRESHA). "We really want our city to be known as Elk Grove, not as the city that looks like Los Angeles."
Council Member Gary Davis said changing the existing ordinance too much wouldn't give residents any reason to trust the city's promises on future issues like the , while others said the business climate has changed enough since 2006 to justify the change.
"Is it going to ruin Elk Grove and turn it into south Sac? I don't think so," Mayor Jim Cooper said. "I see more benefit than harm with it. ... You're balancing the needs of the community with the needs of the businesses."
Davis said he supported off-site signs, but only in places where signs would be currently allowed.
Council Member Steve Detrick defended against allegations that the council was only considering the item because Moore has donated to city council members in the past.
"Everybody's got the right to come to this podium and make a request," Detrick said. "Mr. Moore is just a business owner. He brought the item forward and I think there's merit to it."
Detrick said the city's freeways aren't its most valuable resource, anyway–its schools, parks and churches are, he said.
The council didn't request changes to any other parts of the existing law, and any actual changes would have to come at a later date. Davis said he hoped to see "more public discussion" before any changes are finalized.
After the meeting, Moore said he didn't understand the council's direction. He said he's been trying to build the shopping center for two years, and is frustrated with the process.
"I'm sitting here twiddling my thumbs," he said.
Should the council allow freeway signs for businesses that don't border the freeway? Is altering the 2006 sign ordinance a big deal or a minor change? Tell us in the comments section below.