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Fake fliers with Costa Mesa seal, intended to scare drivers from parking spots, are illegal

A fake flier bearing an illegal reproduction of the Costa Mesa city seal was found on a vehicle parked near Lions Park.
A fake flier bearing an illegal reproduction of the Costa Mesa city seal was found on at least one vehicle parked near Lions Park. The warning, which urged drivers to remove their vehicles or be towed, is a misdemeanor act.
(Courtesy of the city of Costa Mesa)
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Costa Mesa officials this week warned residents to disregard paper fliers appearing to come from City Hall that were placed on vehicles parked on the city’s west side in an apparent attempt to scare drivers away from parking spots.

Bearing a replica of the city’s seal, the notice warns recipients they have 24 hours to remove their cars or be towed at the owner’s expense.

The notice, which contains typos, incorrect punctuation and a misspelling purports to have been signed off on by “Costa Mesa City” and “Costa Mesa Police”:

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“The City of Costa Mesa Highway Department; notifies the owners of vehicles that are not registeres on Park Street. Road ordinance 241b says that owners have to park their cars near their homes and not near others houses or apartments.”

City spokesman Tony Dodero confirmed an unnamed resident, having found a flier on the windshield of his vehicle, took it to City Clerk Brenda Green. The resident said he’d legally parked on Park Drive and walked from there to his residence on nearby James Street.

Dodero issued a warning on social media outlets Wednesday.

“We wanted to get the word out for people to disregard it,” Dodero said, clarifying that the ordinance referenced in the flier, like the notice itself, is bogus. “It’s illegal to actually take a city seal and pretend you have the full weight of the city behind you.”

Actual city law, as stated in Chapter 1 of Title 2 of the Costa Mesa Municipal Code, Section 2-15, states it is a misdemeanor crime to reproduce or use the city’s seal for any unofficial, unsanctioned use.

“No person shall place any imitation of the city seal on any written or printed material that is designed, calculated, intended or likely to confuse, deceive or mislead the public or cause the reader of such written or printed material to believe it to be an official city publication,” it reads. “[And] no person shall circulate or distribute any such written or printed material in the city of Costa Mesa.”

This week’s incident is not the only time Costa Mesa denizens have taken the law into their own hands by replicating an official act. Last July, pedestrians near Wilson Park found a hastily painted crosswalk across Wilson Street, where a real one had been planned but not yet installed.

In that incident, Public Works employees acted quickly to cover up the marks on the street and then oversaw the installation of a real crosswalk with a high-intensity activated crosswalk (HAWK) signal with flashing lights.

Costa Mesa Police Department spokeswoman Roxi Fyad reported Thursday no calls had come into the station regarding the discovery of additional fliers on or near Park Drive.

Anyone who may have information about the incident is asked to call Costa Mesa Police Department’s non-emergency line at (714) 754-5252 or report it on the Costa Mesa 311 mobile app.

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