Plan for LED signs being reconsidered

Previously approved LED signage for Metro Pointe is heading back to Costa Mesa City Hall for further review next week.

On Dec. 16, Councilwoman Sandy Genis appealed the Planning Commission's earlier approval, and now the matter is scheduled to go before the council Jan. 7.

To make the center more visible and thus economically competitive, Corona-based Architectural Design & Signs sought permission to add a variety of new signage for the shopping center, including two 9-by-18-foot LED — light-emitting diode — displays on 53-foot-high pylons visible from the 405 Freeway.

One pylon would be near Best Buy and the other near David's Bridal. Each would have one LED display.

"I would hate to see this be the foot in the door for LED signs," Genis said Monday of her appeal. "That's one of my big concerns. Is this the direction we want to go?"

Milton Solomon of Architectural Design & Signs stressed that the LED signage would not be visible to residences. He said his firm met with and received approval from some residents on Tanana Place, a residential street about 450 feet south of Metro Pointe and across the freeway.

"The only people that will be able to see these signs at this shopping center are the people on the 405," Solomon said. "That's it. Nobody else."

If approved, the LEDs would not contain animation — the California Department of Transportation doesn't allow it — but will have display text that could advertise products at Metro Pointe or events there, such as a sale, he said.

"That doesn't turn the city into a cheap city," Solomon said. "The signs themselves are extremely well designed. They are very simple."

Mayor Pro Tem Steve Mensinger said Monday that he will recuse himself from the discussion, citing a financial interest with Arnel Commercial Properties, owner of Metro Pointe.

A split Planning Commission approved the plans Dec. 9 on a 3-2 vote. Chairman Jim Fitzpatrick and Commissioner Colin McCarthy dissented.

McCarthy said he was worried about living "in a city that becomes LED Row."

The decision comes after two recent LED signage decisions for The Triangle and South Coast Collection that residents contested.

The Triangle's owners withdrew their plans in September 2010 after an outcry from area residents critical of the lights' aesthetic and visual effects on the community.

The Planning Commission approved freeway-facing LEDs for South Coast Collection in 2009, although residents from the State Streets neighborhood across the 405 expressed concerns about them. Officials at the time ensured that the signs would not be visible to the neighbors.

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