Hesperia business owners have four new choices in how to advertise their business for the next 12 months.
Tuesday, the Hesperia City Council voted to loosen rules passed in 2000 that strictly limited the type and number of signs businesses can use for promotion. Back then, the council's primary concern was unsightly clutter of signs on sidewalks and on commercial property.
Nine years later, the issue came back up in response to a financial crisis that has driven many Hesperia businesses to the brink of closure.
"Empty buildings are more of a blight than a few signs," businessman Chris Lindsay told the council.
"We're going to be a city of ghost businesses as they fall by the wayside during these tough times," said resident Dani Moore.
Although none of the current council members was on the council in 2000, several echoed the concerns of their predecessors.
"As a small businessperson, I understand what each and every one is going through," said Councilwoman Rita Vogler, who owns a travel agency in town. "Some responsibility [for a lack of customers] lies with the business owner in regard to advertisement and location. ... I'm very, very concerned with blight."
"One of the big problems we had was with the sandwich boards," said Councilman Ed Pack. "Businesses two and three blocks away left signs on Main Street all day and night and it looked terrible."
In the end, the council voted 4-1, with Vogler dissenting, to allow businesses to erect two additional signs on their own (rented or owned) property during business hours. Sign types allowed include banners, flagpole signs, small freestanding signs and a-frame signs.
"To me, it's an easy one," said Mayor Thurston "Smitty" Smith.
The ordinance will be reviewed in 12 months.
Vogler was also the only council member to vote against a new rule allowing the city's 33 billboards -- all of which were erected before city zoning changes made them illegal to build -- to be moved or upgraded with digital billboards.
The next regular meeting of the Hesperia City Council will take place on August 4 at 1 p.m. at Hesperia City Hall, 9700 Seventh Avenue. (The earlier than usual time is to allow the city council and other city staff to participate in National Night Out, later that same evening.)
Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at email@example.com.