COSTA MESA : City Won't Sign Off on Banners

Colorful holiday banners at Triangle Square violate the city's sign ordinance and should be removed, city officials said this week.

The shopping mall's owners were ticketed Monday for displaying 48 large red banners that declare: "Season's Greetings From Triangle Square." The banners hang from lampposts on sidewalks around the mall.

Because the banners include the name of the mall, they are considered advertisements placed on public property, said City Manager Allan L. Roeder.

Mall owners were notified of the problem Friday but refused to take the signs down, Roeder said.

"It wasn't done for advertising purposes at all," said Rich Shapiro, a Triangle Square managing partner. "We designed it like a season's greeting card from Triangle Square. We think (the banners) are festive and brighten the surroundings."

But Mayor Sandra L. Genis, who complained to the city about the banners, said she has been concerned in the past about apparently illegal signs at the mall.

Genis said she complained in October to city officials that the mall was hanging banners over the sidewalk to advertise lunch specials.

"To use this excuse that it's just a holiday thing is, to be honest, baloney," Genis said. "I'm a little disappointed by their attitude."

Genis said she would be willing to discuss the issue with the merchants at the Dec. 6 council meeting.

Roeder said the city will not insist that the banners come down before the council session.

City Atty. Thomas Kathe is trying to decide how the problem can be resolved, Roeder said. The council cannot make a special exception from the sign ordinance for Triangle Square, but could suspend enforcement citywide for a period of time.

The mall spent more than $10,000 on the banners, Shapiro said. The owners believed they did not need to apply for permission to put the banners up, he said, because they maintain the lamps from which the banners are hung.

Now that citations have been issued and the property owners have refused to take down the banners, Roeder said, the matter is headed for court. However, if the council resolves the situation, it could ask the court to dismiss the citations.

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