Among the items discussed Tuesday during Porterville City Council’s regularly scheduled meeting was the review of the City’s Signs Ordinance and review of the enforcement concerning the parking of recreational vehicles and boats in residential areas.
At the June 15 meeting, Vice Mayor Martha A. Flores requested the council consider the sign ordinance reviewed. It was approved at the July 6 meeting. The reason, she said on Tuesday at the meeting, for requesting it come before the council, was because of concerns expressed by business owners and constituents.
“And my approach is to be proactive and not reactive,” she said. “It’s to work towards a future solution.”
Flores talked about looking at what is prohibited with signage and standards. She said she has seen a lot of feather -shaped banners used for advertising, especially on Olive and Henderson avenues. Some businesses are compliant, she said, but then she will see feather banners that obstruct signage.
And if they were supposed to be temporary signs, why are some faded and shredded and no longer appealing, she asked.
In addition, Flores said she has seen the feather banners pop up on sidewalks. Her concern, she said, is safety, since people have to walk around them and wheelchairs have to navigate around them.
Flores went on to point out that there are signs on fences and businesses and has had different ones brought to her attention.
“I don’t know if there’s a solution, but I know it should be a discussion brought to the table,” she said.
Flores said she wants to look at the ordinances once again.
Mayor Monte Reyes said he was a strong believer in “less is more, not more is better” and voiced a concern visual stimulation and vehicles driving by might make it counter productive.
After asking how many staff the city had for enforcing code ordinances, the answer was two full time and two part time city staff.
The building at Main Street and Olive Avenue, Staffords, Home Realty, were mentioned as great examples of good signage.
A study session of the sign ordinance was suggested just prior to the mentioning of Yard Sale signs attached to city signs.
Temporary signs were also brought up, especially since they can be renewed every 90 days — again and again, making them not so temporary.
City Attorney Julie Lew said it appears the City opened a huge loop hole that's now exploited by permitting the constant temporary sign renewals.
It was decided to study and review the ordinance and return in three months for further suggested direction and action.
Another item under review Tuesday was concerning the parking of recreational vehicles and boats in residential areas.
On July 6, Reyes requested the subject be considered at the July 20 meeting.
Currently municipal code prohibits the parking and storing of recreational vehicles, boats, campers, trailers and similar vehicles for a period longer than 72 hours in the front yard setback. Such vehicles may be stored in the side or rear yard behind a minimum six-foot high, solid fence. In addition, at no time, are recreational vehicles allowed to be occupied as residences.
Since January of 2020, the Porterville Fire Department’s Fire Prevention/Code Enforcement Division has responded to 118 reports in violation of the code, resulting in 83 instances of voluntary compliance and 35 reports remaining open for compliance.
Reyes said he doesn't own an RV or a boat but does understand people need to get away at times.
In the past, he said, boats and recreational vehicles were a sign of success for some people. However, over the past year, they’ve also been a sign of dislocation or relocation because of not being able to keep a home or residence. Residential vehicles are no longer used only for travel and his concern is safety since some individuals are hooking their recreational vehicles to water and electricity with a “sense of entitlement” to them.
There's also a large accumulation of such vehicles throughout the city, he said, and when they hook up to water and electricity, the RVs do not have a backflow device to keep the home from getting contaminated. There's also a potential of higher vandalism.
One concern was tourism. When it picks up, Reyes said, if tourists come into town and see RVs parked in the street, they will think it's allowed and do likewise.
Several examples were offered of recreational vehicles parked and hooked up to electricity, and of three non-operable ones at one location.
“I’m not asking for a total crackdown tomorrow,” Reyes said. “I’m just noticing a trend.”
Fire Marshal Clayton Dignam said when there's a complaint and an RV must be moved, they ask where it's being moved to and follow up with another visit. If the RV fits in the side yard and a person can walk around it and all looks good, they look to see if there are other noncompliant issues or hazards present.
Reyes said a main concern is when people live in them but was assured by the fire marshal they will ask to walk inside one and when they're denied, it’s a good indication someone is living in one. At which point, he said, they either disconnect or he begins the citation process.
Reyes said he was satisfied with the discussion and asked about possibly bringing it back at the time the sign ordinance returns to another meeting.
The fire marshal said it could be reported on upon a quarterly basis and he will include the issue on his next report.