The Sign Ordinance Review Committee was proposed by the City Council in September 2015 in response to the United States Supreme Court decision in Reed v. Town of Gilbert, Ariz. (2015) 576 U.S. ___, 135 S.Ct. 2218. (The Supreme Court oral argument transcript is here. The oral argument recording is here. The recording of Justice Clarence Thomas announcing the opinion on June 18, 2015 is here.) Reed changed a major part of the legal underpinnings for modern sign regulation. As a result, the City Council directed formation of an 11-member committee to review the First Amendment implications of the case with respect to the City of Santa Barbara’s Sign Ordinance. (Santa Barbara Municipal Code, Title 22, Chapter 22.70.) The Council appointed Council Members Gregg Hart and Frank Hotchkiss as its representatives to lead the Sign Ordinance Review Committee.
The City of Santa Barbara has long recognized that signs are an integral part of the cityscape and, as such, can detract from or enhance the City's image and character. The City first adopted a sign ordinance in 1922, and many changes in sign review have occurred since that time. In 1960, the Architectural Board of Review (ABR) began reviewing certain types of signs. Its purview expanded intermittently until all signs - permanent and temporary - were subject to ABR review.
In 1977, the Historic Landmarks Committee began to review signs in El Pueblo Viejo in order to assure that such signs complied with the Historic Structures Ordinance. In July 1977, due to the amount of time required to review signs, a Sign Sub-Committee was formed to review, approve, conditionally approve or deny all signs, subject to ratification of its actions by the full bodies of the ABR and Historic Landmarks Committee.
Also in 1977, lengthy studies began on amending the sign ordinance, in an effort to reduce processing time, clarify the sign ordinance requirements and include Sign Sub-Committee policy in the ordinance. The Sign Ordinance was adopted in the Spring of 1981 and changed the Sub-Committee to full committee status as the "Sign Committee" with two members and an alternate from the business community added, appointed by City Council.
In 1995, the Sign Ordinance was again substantially amended. Since that time, various minor amendments have been made by the City Council.
The Sign Ordinance Review Committee process is expected to follow schedule set forth below, although it may change as the Committee’s work develops:
|Length of Term||Indefinite. The Sign Ordinance Review Committee will disband when it completes its review and recommendations in early to mid-2017.|
|Meeting Schedule||The Committee will meet 5 to 7 times on Thursdays at 5:00 p.m. in the David Gebhard Public Meeting Room, 630 Garden Street. Please check the meeting schedule on the City Calendar.|
|Time Involved||Approximately 2-3 hours per meetings|
|Financial Disclosure Requirement||None|
|Staff||Ariel Calonne, City Attorney, (805) 564-5326|
|Reference||City Council Minutes, September 8, 2015; Municipal Code Chapter 22.70|