Legislature(1995 - 1996)

04/23/1996 01:45 PM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
  SENATE BILL 181                                                              
       "An  Act  relating  to  directional  and  informational                 
       signs,   displays,  and   devices  and   penalties  for                 
       violations related to outdoor advertising."                             
  BRETT  HUBER,  STAFF,  SENATOR  LYDIA  GREEN,  testified  in                 
  support of SB 181.   He stated  that the bill would  provide                 
  for  the Department  of  Transportation &  Public Facilities                 
  (DOTPF) a  Tourist Oriented Directional Sign  (TODS) program                 
  in statute and allow the placement  of TODS signs on private                 
  property outside of the right-of-way.  Codifying the program                 
  would provide  for a well  planned and  regulated system  of                 
  directional signing that would preserve the scenic beauty of                 
  Alaska's  roadways and  benefit  Alaska's  visitors and  the                 
  business' that serve them.                                                   
  He continued, the  Department currently administers  TODS as                 
  an  experimental  program.     Although,   the  program   is                 
  consistent with standards established by the Federal Highway                 
  Administration and  the  Manual of  Uniform Traffic  Control                 
  Devices, absence of statute authorizing the program has left                 
  the public out of the process of promulgating regulation.                    
  By placing  TODS in  statute, the  Legislature will  provide                 
  firm legal footing for  the program to continue.   Mr. Huber                 
  concluded,  passage  of  SB 181  would  provide  long sought                 
  assistance to Alaska businesses that  are dependent on trade                 
  with the traveling public.   The bill would likewise enhance                 
  the state's ability to be user-friendly to it's tourists and                 
  promote a responsive visitor industry.  SB 181  authorizes a                 
  means  for providing  needed  directional information  while                 
  preserving the unique beauty of Alaska's roadways.  He urged                 
  the Committee's support.                                                     
  Representative Brown  referenced Page  3, Section  4, asking                 
  who  would  make  the  determination  in the  unzoned  areas                 
  whether they would  be zoned commercial or  industrial.  Mr.                 
  Huber replied that a  specific definition does not  exist at                 
  this time.   Zoning would  become representative by  the use                 
  pattern of that area.                                                        
  Representative Brown pointed out that  the bill covers space                 
  "outside" the right-of-way.  She asked if  the signs outside                 
  the right-of-way had  to be consistent with  federal highway                 
  standards.   He replied  that they  would,  noting that  the                 
  concern  would  not come  under  the guidelines  for highway                 
  right-of-way control but would be included under the outdoor                 
  advertising control regulations.                                             
  Representative  Brown  asked  the  need  to  include private                 
  property  "monitoring"  in  the   legislation.    Mr.  Huber                 
  explained that congestion could exist on the right-of-way or                 
  that a business site could border  the highway.  In response                 
  to Representative Brown's query, Mr.  Huber indicated it was                 
  the  intention  of the  Department  to approve  the specific                 
  location  on  private property  as well  as on  state lands.                 
  Signage limitations exist in the program.                                    
  stated he did  not know how  many signs each business  could                 
  have.  He understood that  the legislation would provide for                 
  new regulations to be drafted  to address varying situations                 
  -- inside and outside the right-of-way.                                      
  Representative Brown  asked what the Department  intended to                 
  do to prevent a proliferation of signs.  Mr. Huber responded                 
  that  it was the  sponsors intent  to provide  the necessary                 
  latitude to the Department to establish the regulations.                     
  Representative Brown  inquired if the legislation would work                 
  in cooperation with local ordinances and  zoning.  Mr. Huber                 
  replied that it  was the intent  of the legislation that  it                 
  not  be more restrictive than provisions contained in AS 19.                 
  The  municipalities   would  have   the  ability   to  enact                 
  ordinances which were more restrictive if need be.                           
  Representative  Brown  disagreed  with  Section  #5  of  the                 
  legislation which would lower the penalty from a misdemeanor                 
  to  a violation.   Mr.  Huber suggested  that a  misdemeanor                 
  violation  would  not make  the  best  use of  jail  time or                 
  legislative  funding.    Although,  Mr.  Kito  advised  that                 
  reducing the penalty would limit the Department's ability to                 
  enforce  illegal  signs  placed  in  the right-of-way.    He                 
  thought  passage  of  the   legislation  would  hamper   the                 
  Departments ability to implement it.                                         
  Representative Brown  questioned if Section  #5 would  cover                 
  political  signs.     Mr.  Kito  understood   that  separate                 
  restrictions exists  addressing political  advertising.   He                 
  added that political  signage would be expressly  prohibited                 
  in the right-of-way.  Representative Brown proposed that the                 
  Legislature would have  a conflict  of interest in  lowering                 
  the penalty.                                                                 
  Representative Therriault referenced Page  3, Section 4, and                 
  the use of "shall" in relationship regarding the location of                 
  sign placement.   Mr.  Huber responded  that the  Department                 
  will  establish  criteria  to  be  met  in  order  that  the                 
  application be approved.                                                     
  Representative Brown referenced the language on Lines 20-21,                 
  Page  3,   questioning  how   the  Department   would  adopt                 
  regulations which affect the "scenic"  qualities of an area.                 
  Mr. Huber stated that language had  been added in the Senate                 
  Finance  Committee  to  address if  whether  the legislation                 
  would remove current use of road travel.  The Department can                 
  use the quality  of the scenery  which exists in an  area to                 
  allow or disallow signage.                                                   
  Representative  Mulder commented  on  an earlier  discussion                 
  regarding penalty,  misdemeanor versus  a violation  charge.                 
  He suggested that it  was easier to file a violation than to                 
  take a person to court.   He continued, voicing concern with                 
  the number of signs being applied for and  posted.  Mr. Kito                 
  pointed out that existing TODS policy restricts intersection                 
  posting to  a maximum  of four, with  a size  of 90"  x 18".                 
  Representative Mulder asked the criteria used to distinguish                 
  between the applicants and the eligible positions.  Mr. Kito                 
  stated that it would be first come, first served.  Mr. Huber                 
  corrected,  reading from  the TODS policy  guideline manual,                 
  ".....not more than three  signs should be installed on  any                 
  sign  panel  and not  more  than  two sign  panels  could be                 
  installed at any intersection".                                              
  Representative  Kohring noted  support for  the legislation.                 
  He stated that  it would  be an enhancement  to the  tourism                 
  industry, although, suggested  that the fiscal note  was too                 
  high.  Mr. Kito explained the  components of the fiscal note                 
  which would allocate  $10 thousand dollars to  establish the                 
  regulations, the  remainder  would  cover  the  departmental                 
  costs  to  adequately  maintain   the  system.    Discussion                 
  followed regarding the fiscal note.                                          
  Representative Mulder referenced Page 3, Line 7.  He thought                 
  that including "shall"  would suggest that there could be an                 
  inherent conflict and lawsuit  through exclusion of  vendors                 
  who want  to have  a  sign.   He MOVED  changing "shall"  to                 
  "may".   Mr. Huber  stated  that changing  "shall" to  "may"                 
  would  be   permissive  language  in   determining  if   the                 
  Department  instituted the  program.   Representative Mulder                 
  pointed  out  that   the  TODS  program  had   already  been                 
  initiated.  Mr.  Kito explained that  a pilot program is  in                 
  place.    He   stressed  that  regulations  have   not  been                 
  established to  formalized that  program policy.   With  the                 
  changed language, Line 6 has  already established a "tourist                 
  oriented directional sign program".                                          
  (Tape Change, HFC 96-133, Side 1).                                           
  Representative  Therriault  suggested changing  the language                 
  would  make  the entire  program  discretionary.   Mr. Huber                 
  added, changing "shall" to "may" would include the direction                 
  outside of  the right-of-way.   It  is the sponsor's  intent                 
  that the area outside of the right-of-way be included.                       
  Representative Mulder MOVED to WITHDRAW the MOTION to change                 
  the language.  There being NO OBJECTION, it was withdrawn.                   
  Representative Martin MOVED to report CS SS SB 181 (FIN) out                 
  of Committee  with individual  recommendations and with  the                 
  accompanying fiscal note.  There  being NO OBJECTION, it was                 
  so ordered.                                                                  
  CS SS SB 181  (FIN) was reported out  of Committee with  "no                 
  recommendations" and with a fiscal note by the Department of                 
  Transportation and Public Facilities.                                        

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