During a regularly scheduled meeting of the Lake Elsinore Planning Commission Tuesday night, it was decided the city could benefit from more signs – including a massive LED sign at the 15 Freeway -- that promote community events and services.
In the first vote by commissioners Tuesday, a resolution was passed 5-0 that recommends City Council amend an existing zoning ordinance to allow for overhead street banners and upscale, light-pole hanging signs that promote large-scale community events, such as the Lake Elsinore Grand Prix, Frontier Days, and others. Prominent roadways, such as historic Main Street, are tapped for the proposed signs.
Additionally, commissioners voted 4-1 to recommend to City Council that it approve a large LED billboard-type sign on the west side of the 15 Freeway at East Franklin Street, just north of The Diamond Stadium. The more than 50-foot-tall sign would incorporate the Storm’s name and famous “eyes” logo into the design (see attached graphic), and would display rotating paid advertisements in addition to an unpaid 8-second City of Lake Elsinore ad every 10 minutes. Storm Baseball would get 16 seconds of advertising every minute.
Both votes come as city leaders are working to capitalize on Lake Elsinore’s promise as a top Southern California outdoor destination, with existing attractions like , , fishing and boating on the lake, , , nearby hiking trails in the Cleveland National Forest, and , to name a few.
Lake Elsinore resident Kimberly Ryan, owner of Tulips, Trophies & Treasures on Main Street, said she supported both initiatives Tuesday night, but stressed the importance of keeping any signage up to date and in good condition. Additionally, she supported the idea of bringing on an advisory committee -- comprised in part of local artisans from the newly formed Studio 395 -- to help ensure signage contributes to the city’s overall branding efforts.
Robin Golden of Studio 395 was on hand Tuesday, pitching her organization’s willingness to lend input on banners, signs and murals that might get displayed in the city.
“I really hope you listen to what Robin is saying,” Ryan told the commissioners.
Commission Vice Chair Michael O’Neal also supported the concept of an advisory committee to bring an “artistic eye” to local signs.
The LED sign approved by the majority of commissioners Tuesday night was more contentious than the street banners and light-pole signs discussion. Commissioner David Blake voted against the sign, citing concerns about light pollution, hazards posed to I-15 motorists who might be distracted by the bright flashing sign, and worries over local residents who will be within eyeshot of the sign.
“I have problems with visual pollution,” Blake said, noting that nearby residents have not been given any advance notice about the proposed project.
LED signs, Blake said, also seem outdated and relegated to rural, out-of-the-way communities.
“It’s a bit of a dinosaur,” Blake said of the LED sign.
O’Neal did not express support for the sign either, but conceded that the ability to promote local businesses, services and special community events could be advantageous for Lake Elsinore.
“I don’t like the sign at all,” O’Neal said, “but that doesn’t mean I won’t vote for it.”
According to a staff report, Caltrans dictates where proposed LED signs can be placed along freeways, and the East Franklin Street vicinity was one of the few areas available.
“It’s not a carte blanche up and down the freeway,” Lake Elsinore City Attorney Barbara Leibold said, directing her comments to Ryan who was concerned the LED sign could set a precedent for other companies to follow.
Commissioners acknowledged there is the possibility the sign might need to be moved in the future if Franklin Street ever becomes an interchange at the I-15, but Ken Seumalo, director of Public Works for the city, said Caltrans approved the proposed location.
The only services that would be banned from advertising on the LED billboard would be those that feature adult entertainment, alcohol, tobacco, political ads, or any ad deemed “detrimental to the city.”
President Dave Oster reminded the commissioners Tuesday that the city had approved a similar sign as part of a lease agreement between the City of Lake Elsinore and the Diamond Stadium Group. DSG leases the stadium property from the city and, according to a City of Lake Elsinore staff report, the lease stipulated that the parties involved work together to build an electronic sign along the I-15.
Oster told the commissioners it will take approximately five years before DSG sees a return on the more than $1 million sign, but he said the sign offers the opportunity to promote Storm Baseball and all the positive events and services in Lake Elsinore.
Lake Elsinore Valley Chamber of Commerce president Kim Cousins agreed and threw his full support behind all the proposed signs.
“This is a way to capture a new audience,” Cousins argued.
In addition to signage proposals Tuesday night, Lake Elsinore City Councilman Peter Weber told Patch that has revamped its wall displays as part of the overall rebranding effort. Currently, City Hall is displaying works by Lake Elsinore photographer Mike Norkin. The display features attractions found only in Lake Elsinore.
“This is part of the plan to showcase and start getting the branding of our city more visible,” Weber stated Tuesday afternoon. “Before we had these pictures you would think you were in any office … now with our new photos of activities we have in our city, you know you are in Lake Elsinore.”