Planners make exception for Valero sign

By Corey Pride / Cpride@losbanosenterprise.comDecember 1, 2012 

The Planning Commission allowed Valero to keep its pricing sign intact Wednesday.

Commissioners reviewed a continued item from Nov. 14 asking for additional signs at the Valero gas station on Pacheco Boulevard and Eleventh Street.

The sign does not have adequate space to post cash and credit gas prices, which caused Valero to be out of compliance with rules set by Merced County Weights and Measures.

Valero originally proposed two ground-level signs, which the commission rejected because of aesthetics. This week the company requested expanding its 15-by-6 foot sign by adding a 6-by-4 foot space to it. However, the man who designed the sign doesn't like that idea.

"By widening the layout of the existing sign, it kind of looks lopsided. It's ugly. I know it because I drew it," said architect Eli Saliba.

Valero has a removable metal display showing credit card prices below its elevated 15-foot sign. Saliba said he'd prefer the commission allow the gas station to not make any changes.

Making the sign digital and alternating cash and credit card prices was discussed, but Valero's owner Bob Shiraliaf said upgrading the sign would cost $20,000. The idea was abandoned.

Commissioner Deborah Lewis asked Shiraliaf if he knew he would have a two-tiered pricing system before he opened the gas station.

"What I'm struggling with is that we have a sign ordinance in this city. ... Then we're looking at making these exceptions on something that an applicant probably should have known," Lewis said.

Shiraliaf said his station helps Los Banos because what he charges for gas encourages competitors to lower their prices.

Commissioner Arkady Faktorovich said he's in favor of letting Valero continue with the sign the way it is because the city should be business-friendly.

The commission approved a proposal to not change the sign by a 3-2 vote.

Lewis and Commission Chairwoman Tracey Rosin voted against the motion. Commissioner Tom Mello recused himself because he owns property near the Valero and Commissioner Chandra Lee was not present.

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