Hollister – City council members decided Tuesday that billboards don’t fit in Hollister.
The council voted to approve an ordinance that permanently bans off-site billboards within the city limits. The vote came after a public hearing, during which no members of the community addressed the issue.
“Basically billboards present visual and aesthetic impacts which affect the appearance of the community,” said City Attorney Elaine Cass. “And they raise significant traffic issues because of their potential to distract motorists.”
Off-site billboards are defined as signs advertising products or services that aren’t available at the location of the billboard.
A temporary ban on billboards enacted in 2003 expired Tuesday. Last month, the planning commission recommended that the council adopt an ordinance permanently banning the signs.
“I’m happy the city council approved it,” said Planning Commissioner David Huboi, adding that billboards are a distraction and detract from the city’s character.
“By nature, they stand out and say ‘look at me, look at me,'” he said. “They have no architectural value.”
There are at least seven or eight permanent billboards in the city, which will not be affected by the recent ordinance.
“There is no plan at present which addresses the removal of billboards in the city,” Cass said.
However, the planning commission is working on developing a new sign ordinance that would require the removal of the current billboards be removed. Cass said such a proposal hasn’t been put on the council agenda yet and won’t be for several months.
Councilman Robert Scattini said he voted for the ordinance because an abundance of billboards would make the city ugly.
“I think billboards make the city look bleak, and they detract from the beauty of the city,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a good idea to have them plastered all over the city.”
While Huboi said the ordinance shouldn’t affect any local businesses, the planning commission made its recommendations without any feedback from the public. At its meeting last month when the item was up for approval, not a single community member was in attendance, he said.
“If this is going to have an effect on local business, then that’s what I’d want to hear from the general public,” he said.