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Planning Commission to consider freeway-oriented In-N-Out Burger sign

The proposed sign would stand 95 feet high with a face spanning 197.1 square feet.

A sign permit for a 95-foot freeway oriented sign goes before Planning Commission for consideration. (Photo: travelview)

REDLANDS, Calif. — A towering 95-foot freeway sign could be erected in Redlands to help promote the soon-to-be open In-N-Out Burger at the southwest corner of west Lugonia Avenue and Citrus Plaza Drive, pending approval from the City Council.

Why it matters: If approved, this sign will be the third largest in the area, trailing behind the Starbucks and Domino's Pizza sign and the 76 Gas Station sign, both on Parkford Drive. Considerations come as other Southern California cities have tightened rules around freeway-facing signs.

Details: The sign permit will first be discussed at a public hearing during the Tuesday, March 12, Redlands Planning Commission meeting. 

The sign to be discussed will display the In-N-Out Burger corporate logo to promote the drive-through restaurant on the west side of Interstate 210 freeway. The restaurant is currently under construction and is anticipated to open in the second half of 2024. 

The reason for such a large sign has to do with location, according to the staff report attached to the meeting agenda. A flag test was conducted on July 25, 2022, to determine the optimal sign height for maximum visibility. The off-ramps surrounding the proposed sign are Tennessee Street from westbound Interstate 10, Alabama Street and Tennessee Street from eastbound Interstate 10 and San Bernardino Avenue from southbound 2010 freeway. 

Obstructions due to freeway connectors and nearby tall trees resulted in the flag only being visible at a height of 95 feet. This height is also needed because the In-N-Out Burger sits nearly 35 feet lower than the surrounding freeway lanes. For extra visibility, the sign will also have a sign face area of 197.1 square feet. 

According to the pre-released agenda for the upcoming meeting, the Planning Commission will consider whether to recommend that the City Council approve the permit to build the sign. If the Planning Commission recommends the sign permit, it still requires a four-fifths vote by the City Council due to Measure U, a Redlands voter-approved initiative that requires such a vote for commercial signs exceeding 120 square feet.

Zoom out: While Redland still allows freeway-oriented signs for motorist-serving businesses, other nearby cities are more strict, with some even banning them completely. For example, in San Clemente new freeway-oriented signs are prohibited regardless of size or height. Freeway visible signs, however, are still allowed. In Temecula the maximum sign height for freeway-oriented signs is 30-feet.

For most cities, the construction of freeway-oriented signs lies in the hands of local city councils, as is the case in Redlands. 

Moving forward: To hear the outcome of the proposed sign, tune in to the Tuesday meeting, which will be held at 4 p.m. at the civic center and via Zoom.

Public comments can be made in person or via Zoom link found at the top of the agenda.