Raley's responds to community pressure

October 1, 2009 

Store to comply with sign ordinance, regrets disappointing Oakhurst customers

After receiving letters and phone calls complaining about its decision to keep its existing sign, which is not in compliance with the Oakhurst Area Sign Ordinance, Raley's Supermarket has announced the sign will be replaced.

Raley's spokesperson Nicole Townsend , headquartered in Sacramento, said many Oakhurst residents expressed disappointment in the company's decision to keep the old sign and that the decision was unlike Raley's, a store that prides itself on being a part of the community.

"They were right," Townsend said. "We regret that we disappointed so many members of our community and we are going to make it right."

Townsend said the company is working with the county and the landlord to change the sign.

In August, The Sierra Star reported that only eight out of 100 businesses had not complied with the Oakhurst Area Sign Ordinance that went into effect Dec. 3, 2008. At the time, seven of the signs had not met the new height restriction.

The ordinance was drafted to protect property values and the natural scenic beauty of the area. Businesses had a 15-year amortization period to replace or modify signs prior to the Dec. 3, 2008, deadline.

The Raley's sign has sparked a fair amount of debate in the community since the company announced in August that its sign was in compliance with California Business and Professions code 5499, which "allows the sign to remain at its current location, size and height."

At the time, District 5 Supervisor Tom Wheeler voiced his disappointment with the Raley's stance.

"It's really sad that big corporations can't abide by our ordinance to help beautify our downtown," Wheeler said at the time.

Wheeler sent a letter in late August to nine businesses still not in compliance with the sign ordinance, "respectfully requesting your cooperation in complying with the Oakhurst sign ordinance." Of the nine, four are not in compliance due to the height of their signs.

"In these tough economic times, I know how difficult facing additional costs can be. However, more than 90% of your fellow business owners have already adhered to the ordinance. It is on behalf of these business owners and the public at large that I contact you today. Many feel it is unfair that not all businesses have complied to date," Wheeler said in the letter.

Wheeler expressed his appreciation over Raley's recent announcement.

"I want to thank Raley's and all the other businesses that have complied or are planning to comply with the ordinance. I'm looking forward to 100% compliance in the future," Wheeler said.

Although Townsend could not give an estimate of when the new sign will be installed, she said, "We will work harder to be an even better neighbor."

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