Santa Ana Investigating Harrah’s Santora Signs

Santa Ana city officials are investigating whether Santora building owner Mike Harrah illegally installed two plastic box-frame signs to the facade of the historic building on Broadway in the city’s Artists Village.

If the signs are found to violate the city’s sign regulations and don’t have permits, building owner Michael Harrah will be issued a citation with an order to fix the violations, said Jay Trevino, the city’s planning and building director.

Artists and other business owners in the Santora are angry about the signs, saying that they are not only an affront to the building’s Spanish revival design, but that they also direct people away from the building and to Harrah’s Original Mike’s restaurant on First Street.

Although the investigation is ongoing, there are indications that Harrah violated a sign regulation banning advertisements for businesses not located in the building and didn’t pull permits to install the signs. He also violated a facade easement owned by Philip Chinn, the president of the historic preservation group Heritage Orange County.

Chinn said the language of his easement requires the building owner to get permission from Chinn before moving forward with any changes to the exterior of the building. Chinn said Harrah never contacted him about the signs.

“I don’t think there’s any wiggle room [in the easement],” Chinn said.

Trevino acknowledged that the city is also investigating whether Harrah went through the appropriate steps to install the signs on a historic building.

“The fact that the Santora is a historical building does make it a little more complicated,” Trevino said.

Harrah did not return a phone call seeking comment.