In what eventually became two separate votes Tuesday night, the Santa Monica City Council approved animated signs for both public safety and traffic regulation purposes as well as for school purposes.
Until Tuesday night’s meeting the City’s Sign Code prohibited all animated signs, except when it came to directing traffic and minimizing congestion.
Public schools in Santa Monica already had animated signs because they are state entities, exempt from local land use regulations. However, private schools are not state entities and were unable to use animated signs.
Following a request by Councilmember Kevin McKeown, the vote for the amendment for the Sign Code for public safety and traffic regulation was separated from the one for schools. McKeown.
While the council had no problems approving the amendment for public safety and traffic purposes, McKeown expressed concern for residents, arguing that schools were in residential areas and that having schools flashing bright red lights into people’s windows 24/7 was a cause for concern. He requested that the council create a motion that would create a regulatory framework for schools that wanted the signs.
But Councilmember Gleam Davis argued that the private schools in question are non-profit organizations that are not in residential neighborhoods. “All we’re deciding here is whether private schools can [have animated signage as public schools currently do],” she said. “Asking them to spend money to jump through hoops is upsetting. I’d rather see them spending their money to educate our kids.”
The vote passed 5-2 with McKeown and Robert Holbrook casting the dissenting votes. McKeown also requested that his no vote reflected the belief that there was “insufficient protection to residents [that live] near these signs.”
What do you think about the Council’s decision? Do you believe the animated signs are a problem?