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Caltrans to remove traffic sign

A large electronic sign erected by Caltrans on Laguna Canyon Road is due be removed — after residents complained about it and city officials determined it was put in place without required permits.

Caltrans representative Pam Gorniak said the sign — recently erected near the Dog Park and the Animal Shelter — is intended to give drivers current traffic conditions on the sometimes-congested road as well as estimated travel times to help ease heavy traffic.

The sign is one of 13 placed in various high-congestion roads in Orange County, but it is the only one in a Coastal Zone and subject to Coastal Development permits, Gorniak said.

Gorniak said the removal is scheduled for July 9 and that the sign will be stored until the proper permits are acquired.

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Caltrans officials hope the sign will be resurrected because they feel the congestion relief the sign will help to provide will be substantial, Gorniak said

Caltrans did not inform the city of the decision to install the sign and therefore didn’t get the requisite permits, city officials allege.

Assistant City Manager John Pietig said everything built in the city is required to have a Coastal Development permit.

Pietig said the first city officials heard of the sign’s existence came from residents.

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“We couldn’t explain why it was there until we called Caltrans,” Pietig said.

The city manager’s office was contacted by citizens inquiring as to why the sign was there. Pietig said people were upset.

“We had received several phone calls and e-mails from the community,” Pietig said.

Caltrans officials also received phone calls from curious residents who wondered why it was there, or who asked for it to be removed.

“They thought it was detracting from the pristine canyon which is very important to them,” Gorniak said.

Laguna Beach officials contacted Caltrans and brokered a deal to remove the sign and seek the proper permits in the future.

“They were very cooperative once they realized what had happened,” Pietig said.

Pietig expects the sign to be gone by the end of next week.

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