Mailbag: Proposed signs at Triangle Square do not deserve exemption from existing ordinance

A rendering shows a proposed LED billboard for Costa Mesa's Triangle Square shopping center.
A rendering shows how a 1,200-square-foot LED wraparound billboard being proposed for Costa Mesa’s Triangle Square shopping center might appear at night.
(Courtesy of Selbert Perkins Design)

I’m responding to the “Clearing up misconceptions” commentary about the Triangle Square LED billboard sign proposal. Reading owner Tyler Mateen’s commentary, I feel he hasn’t heard the concerns of Costa Mesa residents and businesses. He never addressed the current traffic flow issues and safety concerns brought on by the distraction of flashing signs.

The sign proposal would allow the mall to bypass a city ordinance prohibiting such displays. Asking for an exception was arrogant and is one-sided in the mall’s favor, along with the proposal to not pay the city for three years, craft a 60-plus-year agreement (longer than a mortgage and most marriages) and allow third-party advertising that will only hurt the tenants there and confuse drivers.

Mateen’s defense for proposing LED billboard lighting is we need to help other businesses right now. He is giving an answer to the wrong question being asked.

What has Triangle Square done in the recent past to work with and help businesses in Costa Mesa? What is Mateen’s marketing plan and budget beyond donating to political campaigns to try to allow this exception? And offering the city a commission from third-party advertising? The mall’s website is archaic (old postings) and not kept updated. Retail has changed, and Las Vegas/L.A.-style video signage is not going to resurrect the mall. He needs a new marketing plan.

Please contact by email or phone your City Council and commissioners in Costa Mesa and others and let them know that safety and traffic flow are not for sale. Just say “No” to this LED video signage exception.

Dale Luther
Costa Mesa

Since about 2010, several owners of Triangle Square have tried to convince Costa Mesa officials that electronic billboards would somehow boost patronage of that shopping center. The current owner wrote a commentary that appeared on the Daily Pilot website on March 30. On the evening of Monday, April 12, the Planning Commission will once again hold a hearing on the monster that keeps rearing its ugly head.

This time the owner is trying to sell the city on a proposal that is supposed to compensate us for the installation of three LED eyesores, which will distract drivers at this location. The intersection of 19th Street and the 55 freeway is one of the busiest in the city and also the most dangerous.

The current draft of the development agreement is one-sided towards the owner of Triangle Square. It does not identify a community benefit, such as a park, fire station, library or other improvement which is typically found in these agreements.

There is a proposal for the owner to pay for the privilege of blighting Costa Mesa, but there is no guarantee the city will ever see much money, as payment will begin one year after the date the sign ordinance is changed to allow the billboards. Then, the city will receive $150,000 per year for 30 years.

Also included in the tease is a chance the city will get additional funds, but those will only be paid when the owner crosses a threshold of $1 million in net income in an “operating year.” However, there is no guaranty that the city will receive those funds because if the owner decides not to operate continuously for 12 months, that will not constitute an “operating year.”

The proposal also includes 20 seconds of free advertising per billboard every five weeks for the city. The typical ad at the Beverly Center in Los Angeles is shown for 360 seconds per hour. This offer by the owner is practically worthless and is a poor way for it to treat its partner (the city) in this venture.

Since the billboards would be in violation of the city’s current sign ordinance, the Planning Commission must grant the owner an exception to those laws. That entitlement is worth millions and it will increase the asking price for property when it hits the market. Meanwhile, the city gets a meager $150,000 per year plus 10% of revenue over $1 million as payment for turning our downtown into Las Vegas.

This is a bad business deal for the city. Please contact your district planning commissioner and tell him or her to do what is best for the city and its residents: Vote “No!”

Cynthia McDonald
Costa Mesa

Police needed at ‘hate’ rally

My beautiful beach city is haunted by hatred. From the KKK to skinheads back to the KKK, hatred hides in plain sight in Huntington Beach. Of course, the 1st Amendment protects free speech (however offensive it may be). But a police presence is essential at the scheduled “hate” rally to discourage violence and criminality.

Hatred is volatile and can easily combust if the guardians of law and order are not available to protect and serve all members of the public.

Ben Miles
Huntington Beach

Noting a trend

The L.A. Times and most newspapers used to have a policy that you could only get a letter to the editor published once every three months or six months or whatever. In the case of the Daily Pilot I’m wondering if letters are solicited because every week it seems letters from the same readers are published. Are they on staff or are you desperate to fill up space? This week you outdid yourselves by publishing two letters from one reader in the same edition.

Gene Axelrod
Huntington Beach

Peterson had a chance

Wow, Erik Peterson! You showed your true colors in abstaining from the recent Huntington Beach City Council votes against hate and white supremacy. This was teed up for you to do the right thing (even symbolically) and you whiffed on it, bro.

Mike Aguilar
Costa Mesa

Embracing diversity of people and pies

When I moved to Newport Beach from L.A. in 1976, I remember noticing that almost everyone had blond hair and blue eyes. It was extraordinary, having moved from a city with more diversity than most. It didn’t take me long to realize that there was something amiss here in this coastal paradise.

My first boyfriend, a blond surfer, told me that he “didn’t like Black people” because his uncle had been killed by a Black man. A girlfriend told me that she didn’t like to eat Mexican food because she “didn’t like Mexicans.” There was a large group of evangelical Christians pulling lonely teenagers like myself into their Saturday evening rock concerts at Calvary Chapel, every evening ending in an altar call for conversions. I don’t recall ever seeing a single person of color at these events.

Something started to slowly shift though, over the last 40-plus years. Latino and Asian people together now make up the majority in previously white Orange County, and mosques and temples have sprouted up alongside the evangelical chapels.

Personally, I love it. I welcome it. I know I am not alone; I have found true friendship and camaraderie among like-minded people in the Newport Beach Women’s Democratic Club. We all agree there is nothing more beautiful and more interesting than the diversity of humanity, and we stand against hate and for our communities of color.

As a white woman myself, I try hard to understand what’s going on in a racist’s mind: It must be an attitude of scarcity. As if, if we let the folks who look different than us into our schools, our neighborhoods, our workplaces, that somehow they are going to take away something from us? As if the school desk they sit in, the house they buy, the job they take, is somehow taking it away from ourselves or our children? As if the whole thing is a contest to see who gets the most stuff, takes up the most space, gets the biggest piece of pie, wins? And we are split into competing teams along racial lines? I’m confused.

I would invite my white brothers and sisters to rethink your attitude of scarcity, and create a new mindset of abundance. We are not sharing a single pie, we are baking a multitude of pies, different kinds of pies —together. There will always be a variety and there will always be enough.

So when I saw KKK fliers being distributed in Newport and Huntington Beach last week, and the anticipated “White Lives Matter” rally this next weekend, I felt physically ill. How, why are we being dragged back to the 1920s when the KKK found a welcome home here? How do those of us who embrace diversity, who strongly oppose all hate and racism, respond appropriately?

With love and compassion. What else can we do? We cannot fight fire with fire. We need to extinguish the flames of hatred with the cooling waters of love.

I know there is a counter-protest planned this weekend. I plan on being there. Maybe I’ll even bring some pies — peach pies, blackberry pies, apple pies, pecan pies, cherry pies. Because diversity is a beautiful thing. And pies are good.

Laura Oatman
President, Newport Beach Women’s Democratic Club

Bicyclist’s death raises questions

I don’t know the first thing about emergency care pertaining to car accident victims, but it would seem to me that when a person is hit by a car while riding a bicycle and is hurt very bad that the quickest route to a hospital would be necessary. Ernest Adams, the 80-year-old on a bicycle, was hit near Newport Harbor High School in Newport Beach and then driven to Orange County Global Medical Center in Santa Ana where he died from his injuries. Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach is but a few miles from where Adams was hit, yet he was driven about 11 miles to Santa Ana where he died. If he was taken to Hoag he might have died anyway due to the serious injuries, but at least he would have been seen sooner by doctors and perhaps the time element would have made a difference. I hear that the emergency services at Hoag are very good, but the article stated that “Adams was transported to a nearby hospital,” which really didn’t appear to be that nearby with Hoag so much closer.

Bill Spitalnick
Newport Beach

Traffic problems continue to plague us in Newport Beach, particularly in the Newport Heights area where drivers often exceed the speed limit by 10 to 20 miles per hour. They whiz by stop signs as if they weren’t there.

Last week we lost one of our own, Ernest Adams, who was riding his bike near Newport Harbor High in broad daylight on March 28 when he was struck by a suspected DUI driver. Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to his wife, Lynda Adams and his family who have been active community members for decades. Neighbors would often see Lynda and Ernie enjoying the frontyard in their Newport Heights’ home.

You can walk down Riverside Drive to Pacific Coast Highway any day of the week and witness the often excessive speed of the passing cars. Drivers reluctantly only slow down or stop for the crosswalk if you are an assertive pedestrian. Because there are few sidewalks in the area, which hosts two community schools, pedestrians often have to walk on the side of the street, making popular thoroughfares particularly dangerous for them as well as cyclists. This already critical situation threatens to get a lot worse with the new developments being planned for Mariners Mile. Walking on streets without sidewalks, next to traffic driving at excessive speeds is already a daunting experience, unsuitable for a residential community. It is definitely a problem that should be resolved before proposed redevelopment in that area receives the “green light” to proceed. Solutions for traffic problems now and in the future definitely need to be met with transparency.

Lynn Lorenz
Newport Beach

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