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On Tuesday, city councilmembers will rescind a permit granted to shopping mall conglomerate Westfield Group to hang a 672-square-foot neon sign at Westfield's UTC Shopping Mall.

City staff as well as city councilmembers granted the permit despite complaints that the City had failed to give the public proper notice of the proposal to install the massive sign, nearly double the size allowed for in the City's sign ordinance. Lobbyists hired by the Westfield Group spent months lobbying city councilmembers to approve amending the sign ordinance to make room for the massive sign as well as a number of hours convincing council to deny the subsequent appeal from some residents. Their work paid off when council signed off on the sign in March 2013.

Shortly after, attorney Cory Briggs representing San Diegans for Open Government challenged council's approval.

"The project has the potential to cause significant direct, indirect, or cumulative adverse impacts on the environment, including, among other things, aesthetic impacts, traffic impacts, and inconsistencies with Respondents' land use policies and regulations," Briggs claimed in the lawsuit.

Superior Court Judge Timothy Taylor agreed. In his final decision, issued on November 5, 2013, Taylor nailed city staff and elected officials for using a double standard in regards to the public notice.

"The City properly insists on exacting compliance with deadlines when it is the beneficiary of them. The public has the right to expect that the City will show equal respect for timing deadlines when it is the party burdened by them."

Now, four months after Taylor's decision, city council will settle the issue once and for all.

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Comments

Visduh March 23, 2014 @ 8:19 p.m.

Isn't this the judge who shut down the Jacobs-inspired Balboa Park makeover, and for similar reasons? Wasn't Briggs and his organization involved in that smackdown? If I'm mistaken, will someone clarify? If I'm right, could someone elaborate on the matters?

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jelula March 26, 2014 @ 8:22 a.m.

Visduh - you're correct that it was Judge Timothy Taylor who ruled against the City on the Plaza de Panama project but Briggs was not the attorney. The suit was filed by SOHO (Save Our Heritage Organisation), represented by their own attorney. Judge Taylor has shown himself to be a judge who rules based on the law whether or not he personally agrees with it, as he made clear in his ruling on the Plaza de Panama suit.

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