A week after Councilman Ara Najarian said the large pole signs of fast-food chains and strip malls weren't aesthetically compatible with Glendale, he found himself apologizing Tuesday to a crowd of people from the place he said they were ubiquitous: East L.A.
Roughly 20 people from East Los Angeles showed up at City Hall to demand an apology for what they considered to be a slight to their community.
“To utilize blight as the only characteristic of East Los Angeles is shortsighted and false,” said Omar Loya, owner of Cities Restaurant on East Cesar Chavez Avenue.
At a City Council meeting last week, Najarian said dissatisfaction with the signs was “a matter of aesthetics,” adding: “These signs are something you see in East L.A.”
The comment came as Glendale officials discuss ways to wipe out oversized pole signs that violate city codes off Glendale’s streets. But the comment, which gained traction in local media, didn't sit well with those who live in East L.A. communities.
The contingent in City Council Chambers on Tuesday included residents, business owners and students, who broadcast their dissatisfaction through a pre-meeting announcement via Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina's office.
A spokeswoman for the supervisor, whose district includes many of the L.A. communities that border Glendale to the south and east, said her office was merely helping to get the message out for a group of constituents who had been calling to complain about Najarian's comment.
Najarian apologized and said the reaction was deserved.
“I do apologize if my comments were in any way a slur on the fine people and rich cultural diversity of the East L.A. community,” Najarian said.
Glendale has long banned signs bigger than 8 feet tall and required those that want to change their sign faces to comply with the law. Some businesses haven’t been following the rules, but their cases were put on hold as the council reviewed the matter.
Council members on Tuesday essentially voted to enforce that policy, which officials say affects about 20 signs.
But there are roughly 40 others — some reaching as high as 25 feet tall — that are also too big, but won’t be affected by the vote because there are no plans to change the signs. Last week, the council directed officials to come back with options for addressing that group.
-- Brittany Levine, Times Community News