The Triangle seeks OK for new signage

A proposal to put advertising at The Triangle is again up for consideration by the Costa Mesa Planning Commission, much to the ire of some Eastside residents who say such signs can lead to visual blight.

Greenlaw Partners, the Newport Beach-based property owner of the renamed and revamped shopping center, will seek the commission’s approval Tuesday to allow two signs to advertise only Costa Mesa businesses, performing arts venues or city agencies.

One of the signs, at 600 square feet, is already in place at the dome formerly used by Niketown, which faces Newport Boulevard and West 19th Street. It currently displays advertising for Vans shoes.

The second is a new, 300-square-foot sign that would face Newport and Harbor boulevards, where The Gap was housed.

Greenlaw attempted to install two LED signs in 2010 at what was then called Triangle Square, but the request was withdrawn. This new proposal only has vinyl signs.

Mel Lee, senior planner with the city, said there would be no additional lighting for the signs.

This is the first time the Planning Commission is considering a request for changeable vinyl signs, according to a city staff report.

Greenlaw contends that the signage will “attract greater customer attention for the center and downtown Costa Mesa businesses,” as well as for industrial areas in the Westside. City staff also wrote that the additional, but limited, signage areas “would not result in over signage or visual clutter at The Triangle.”

A request for additional comment from Greenlaw was not returned as of Friday afternoon.

Katie Arthur was involved in 2010 with the shopping center’s proposed LED signs. The 17-year resident, who lives a few blocks from the shopping center, said any advertising there would not benefit the city or its residents, only the property owner.

“It just looks ugly,” she said. “We shouldn’t be using The Triangle as a billboard.”

She said if the signs were approved to display content not just about Triangle businesses, they could display anything, from massage parlors and gun shops to DUI attorneys and windshield repair.

“If they want to advertise for dog food, fertilizer, whatever — let your imagination run wild ... People should imagine anything up there,” she said.

If approved at The Triangle, Arthur said, such advertising could spread to 17th Street and elsewhere in the city.

Fellow Eastside resident Michael Moon echoed Arthur’s viewpoint that the signs — while needed by the developer “to pay the bills” — would do little for the area’s residents. Furthermore, there’s already a stand-alone billboard at the Costa Mesa (55) Freeway’s exit, he said.

That board is currently an advertisement for Patrón tequila.

“There are plenty of studies for urban planners that point out that [such signs] rarely, if ever, help a place … It goes the other way,” Moon said.

He called The Triangle a “white elephant of a development” — a reference to its struggles to keep major tenants — that should better fit with its surrounding neighborhood, as the Camp on Bristol Street has.

In 2010, proposed LED signs at The Triangle were unpopular with some vocal Eastside residents who said the signs’ light would have shone through their windows and distract drivers.

Regarding lighting this time, city staff recommended that “no additional exterior or interior illumination” of the signs or area be allowed unless approved by the development services director.

The Planning Commission meets at 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers within City Hall, 77 Fair Drive.

Twitter: @bradleyzint