County Sets Its ‘Cites’ on More Castro Valley Signs | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 07 February 2013 10:33

By Robert Souza

Just as downtown business owners had begun breathing a sigh of relief over the completion of Streetscape, a number of them now have something new to worry about.


County officials have begun issuing notices for illegal vinyl banners, sidewalk signs, non-conforming automobile ads, and logo flags that are forbidden by local regulations.


Ellen Bell, who owns Castro Valley Yoga on the Boulevard, received a notice to remove her banner and lawn sign.


“It’s frustrating because they have been up for over eight months with no complaints about them,” said Bell who is looking into an expensive box sign on her location at the corner of San Miguel Avenue. “The county seems to be doing a blanket sweep along the Boulevard.”


Bell said the sign process costs a lot:  $450 for drawings, $300 for a sign review, $1,800 for the permit process and another $2,500 to pay for the sign.


For the past year Tom Kokezas has used a vinyl banner roped to his van parked in the Lucky’s shopping center for his “out of sight” boulevard business. Facing the threat of a $500 fine,  he said he would remove it despite what it will do to his bottom line.


A number of other merchants on the Boulevard, who have received letters about their outdoor signs, are complaining about what they’re calling a new crackdown on small business.


Not so, said County Code Enforcement Director Tona Henninger in a recent telephone interview: “Nothing different is happening and there is no crackdown going on in Castro Valley.”


She explained that the county’s monitoring of signs had been on hiatus during street construction and the holiday season to give businesses “a little leeway,” but now that both are over it’s time to enforce the laws that are on the books.


Henninger said county officials are considering some changes to regulations to make them more user-friendly for Castro Valley businesses.


The most frequent violations, according to county officials, are the  so-called A-frame signs which can be sidewalk hazards, and the various vinyl banners. The regulations exist, they say, to keep businesses from installing signs that are unsafe or that would blight the community.


A sign that attracted much recent statewide notoriety was the Vegas-style BLVD sign on the Boulevard Burger diner, which caught the attention of the Big City news media across the Bay. The owners were forced to take it down and move it inside or face daily fines.


The Castro Valley Chamber of Commerce has received a handful of phone calls inquiring about the county’s business sign regulations.



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