Elk Grove Sign Ordinance Change May Not Be What Original Proponent Had in Mind

When a local fast food and gas station developer first approached the Elk Grove City Council last March to change the city's hig...

When a local fast food and gas station developer first approached the Elk Grove City Council last March to change the city's highway sign ordinance, it is not likely he hoped to see the proposed ordinance change that will be considered at tonight's city council meeting.

The ordinance change the city council will consider tonight is a far cry from what developer Gil Moore initially sought when he asked for the change last year. Moore, who hopes to develop a gas station and fast food strip center on Sheldon Road and East Stockton Blvd., had sought the change to allow him to place a billboard along Highway 99.

Fast food developer Gil Moore is unlikely to get his desired sign.
Under current regulations, only properties that are directly adjacent to the highway can place billboards there. At tonight's meeting, the council will essestailly consider new regulations that will allow highway adjacent property owners to allow placement of signs for non-highway adjacent businesses on their billboard at their discretion. 

Although the current proposal before the council is not what Moore strenuously argued for, it wasn't for lack of trying on the city's part. For Moore's benefit, the city held a workshop last June to solicit suggestions on how the city should, not whether, change the ordinance.

At that workshop local citizens decried the methods employed in the meeting saying the questions and format implied support for Moore's billboard initiative. Aside from Moore's family and business associates who were paraded about, there was little support for the change.

Furthermore, not only did Moore's initiative lack popular support, it generated outright acrimony. Following at least two meetings on the matter Moore and his associates engaged in heated shouting matches with opponents of his initiative.

While Moore's proposal riled many Elk Grove citizens, what may ultimately doom his bid was his late entry into the "game." That game is of course not played with ideas, rather it is played with money. 

Although Moore showered four of the current elected council members with campaign contributions, in some cases up to five figures in size, and donated to local charities, it may have been too little too late. Moore faced completion from two prominent developers who own property near his proposed strip center with deep ties to the city council - Winn Development and AKT Investments.

When attorneys for both of these entities showed up at planning or council meetings where Moore's matter was being heard, they effectively argued their clients paid premium prices for freeway adjacent property for the exclusive right for freeway billboards. Conversely, they argued why should Moore and his non-freeway non-premium priced property be given this right?

Obviously the city council can do an about face, reverse it previously stated intentions as well as the actions of the planning commission and grant Moore the right to buy some surplus property near the Sheldon Road and Highway 99 interchange and give him the billboard he desperately needs to land the coveted McDonald's. If they do, they do at great risk not only from an angry Elk Grove electorate, but from two far more powerful and prominent regional players.  

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