At Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, City Staff will introduce a first reading and ordinance that would amend the City’s sign code to allow the City and schools to use animated signs for public safety and school purposes only.
Currently, the City's Sign Code prohibits all animated signs, except when it comes to directing traffic and minimizing congestion, especially when it comes to school and community events.
According to the City staff report, the proposed ordinance would amend the Sign Code to legalize the use of animated signs for traffic circulation and public safety purposes, a specific type of signage regulation that is supported by First Amendment case law. Staff will also propose an amendment to allow primary and secondary schools to use animated signs for school purposes.
However, while animated signs are prohibited in the city, according to the staff report, several public schools nonetheless have animated signs, partly “because school districts are state entities and are therefore exempt from local land use regulations in performing their educational mission.” For this reason, the City has not challenged the signs.
However private schools in Santa Monica are not state entities, and according to staff, at least one school has asked the City to be allowed to use them.
According to Planning & Community Development Director David Martin, there “is no immediate financial impact or budget action necessary as a result of the recommended action.”
Do you think the council should support the introduction of animated signs for public and school safety? Tell us in the comments.