Word on Webster: Banner business on Webster Street
By Steve Gerstle
The number of plastic advertising banners along Webster Street continues to grow. This columnist recently counted more than 30 of them hung on Webster Street storefronts between Atlantic Avenue and Central Avenue. Almost
none of these banners are permitted under Alameda’s municipal code or the Webster Street Design Manual, which sets design standards for Webster Street, including sign standards. The Island sought to find out why so many of these banners were present when almost all are prohibited .
According to the code, “One (1) window sign may be located inside or outside the glazed area of each building elevation with a street frontage, for a maximum of thirty (30) consecutive days, and cumulative for a maximum of ninety (90) days per year subject to the limitations on maximum window sign area prescribed by subsection 30-6.4.c. All promotional signs shall state, using letters at least one (1″) inch in height, the date the sign was installed.” Not a single banner observed on Webster Street noted the date that the sign was installed. (One “Grand Opening” banner has been hanging for almost two years.)
Planning Services Manager Margaret Kavanaugh said that while the city code strictly limits these types of signs, Alameda’s code enforcement department has suffered deep cuts which have resulted in reduced enforcement. Code enforcement prioritizes violations that affect health and safety; few sign violations fit that category. In addition, code enforcement only responds to complaints. Without a complaint, there is no action. Kavanaugh said that outreach to seek voluntary compliance from a business owner is usually the preferred first approach.
Judi Friedman of the West Alameda Business Association
said she prefers this method of addressing the banner boom, and that she plans on visiting the businesses with non-conforming signs. Friedman said she does not see any evidence that the banners result in more customers. She thinks that the accumulation of banners may actually drive customers away because they don’t contribute to a positive image of Webster Street.
In order to encourage less use of illegal banners, the city is considering allowing sandwich board signs on Webster Street with code restrictions. As to whether these code restrictions will be enforced, we’ll have to wait and see. As it is now, the plastic banner companies are doing a booming business.
The Alameda Police Department has posted the Alameda Belt Line property on Ralph Appezzato Memorial Parkway (formerly Atlantic Avenue) as a “No Parking” zone. Big rigs and trucks were using the dusty strip for parking and advertising.
AC Transit has called Line 31, which serves Alameda Point and the West End, a “resounding success.” The line has high ridership to Alameda Point and there has been positive feedback from the Alameda Point Collaborative and the City of Alameda. When the line was being planned, there was some community wrangling as to what route the line should take in the West End. Community meetings were held to discuss the issue.
The façade improvement at Calafia and Larry’s Shoe Repair has hit a temporary snag. There has been a delay in receiving the windows that were custom-ordered.
Work continues on the site of the former New Zealander. The historic doors are being refinished and repaired one by one. Look for Croll’s Bar & Grill to reopen soon, featuring American comfort food and great drinks.
According to Alameda’s public works department, the currently non-functioning lighted crosswalk at Webster and Taylor will be replaced with a newer system in the near future.
During the recent storms, a large tree near Sixth Street and Taylor Avenue came crashing down into the roadway. Luckily, no injuries or property damage were noted.