A proposed digital signage program at Costa Mesa’s Triangle Square has pitted the interests of business owners in the shopping center against those of neighboring residents.

The city’s Planning Commission has continued the hearings on the controversial issue several times since last April. Commissioners on Monday night voted unanimously to delay a decision to next month. City staff recommended continuing the item to finish making revisions to a signage agreement with Triangle Square.

Shopping center owner Tyler Mateen, as well as many employees and business owners believe the signs will bring commerce and revitalize the shopping center through advertisements for businesses there and generate ad revenue from those not in the mall.

However, many residents in Costa Mesa worry that what they call “Las Vegas style billboards” will not be aesthetically pleasing. Some critics also warn that distracting signs would make the nearby dangerous intersection only more treacherous, potentially making the city liable for traffic collisions.

Under a city ordinance, electronic changeable signs are prohibited to keep the lighting from impacting neighboring properties.

In 2010, the shopping center’s former owners, Greenlaw Partners, tried to get the city to allow two electronic signs at the property, but received public backlash by residents, leading the owners to withdraw their application.

The current proposal includes a total of 4,960 square feet of signage on the property – more than half of which is digital, according to a city staff report.

As part of the development agreement, Mateen is offering Costa Mesa 25% of the ad revenue from the signs on a quarterly basis, starting three years after the deal is signed. The city would control 10% of the annual content on the signs.

If approved by the Planning Commission, the City Council would have to vote on a new ordinance to authorize the deal, since it’s prohibited by current municipal code.

The commission will once again take up the issue on April 12. 

Hosam Elattar is a Voice of OC Reporting Fellow. Contact him at helattar@voiceofoc.org or on Twitter @ElattarHosam.

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