Review of electronic sign decision sought

Editor's note: This corrects the time the signs would be turned off and dimmed.

COSTA MESA — Councilwoman Wendy Leece is asking for a review of a Planning Commission decision to approve two electronic signs that would be installed on the northeast and southwest sides of Triangle Square.

Leece is asking for the review on behalf of the residents who live near the square where 19th Street meets Harbor and Newport boulevards.

"I got a lot of e-mails and calls from residents," Leece said. "They are concerned about the public safety and traffic issues. People in that intersection are concerned about environmental issues. They want more information about how it's going to work. Basically, they don't think it complements that part of our city."

Newport Beach-based Greenlaw Partners, Triangle Square's owner, is working to revitalize the once-bustling center, which has been in decline in recent years. The firm approached the city about the electronic, changeable signs as part of an effort to attract shoppers and diners back to the center.

Sources say the owner is working to turn Triangle Square into an entertainment center instead of a retail center, a concept that has failed.

One sign would sit on the former Niketown dome and be viewable by passengers coming off the Costa Mesa (55) Freeway. The other sign would be placed near the Sutra Lounge and be viewable by drivers coming from Harbor and Newport boulevards.

The signs are prohibited by the city, but can be approved on a case-by-case basis. City staff recommended approving the signs, saying they will not be visible from residentially zoned properties and will have minimum visual impact on drivers.

Steve Klaustermeier, who lives on an alley between Flower Street and Broadway, said he can see the center's dome from his home, and if the sign is going to sit near it or on top of it, then there's no doubt he'll be seeing its flashing lights.

Flashing, animated displays and images are also prohibited by the city.

"Their company is saying there are no residents who will be affected, but I don't know what streets they're talking about," Klaustermeier said. "Most of the houses on Flower, all the way to Fullerton, will have a view of it. And when the day starts getting shorter, it's going to be on for a long time."

Part of the conditions would have the signs on from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 7 a.m. to midnight Thursday through Saturday, with progressive dimming during the last hour.

In an e-mail sent to Leece, resident Katie Arthur said she needed more information before the signs can be installed.

"I believe all of us want to keep and enhance the 'look and feel' of our neighborhood and CM in general," Arthur wrote. "None of us want Newport Blvd. to look like the Las Vegas Strip."

A public hearing on the issue is scheduled in council chambers Sept 7.

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