Mike Madriaga 11 a.m., May 21
Lawsuit aims to prevent massive wall signs from being allowed in City
San Diegans for Open Government filed a lawsuit against the City of San Diego and Westfield LLC for trying to scuttle current zoning laws.
The signs point to a showdown in court.
Last week, San Diegans for Open Government, a non-profit government watchdog group, filed a lawsuit against the City of San Diego and Westfield Group over an attempt to scuttle current zoning laws which regulate the size of signs in the City.
At issue is a proposal from Westfield, the owner and operator of shopping malls, to hang massive wall signs on the outside of buildings at La Jolla's UTC Shopping Center. The problem, says the lawsuit, is that the signs are nearly double the size allowed for by San Diego's Municipal Code. The code allows for wall signs in commercial zones to measure 350 feet. Westfield wants to stretch that to a 672 foot illuminated sign while at the same time bypassing California's Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
That's where the City comes into it. According to the lawsuit, the City of San Diego violated public hearing laws by failing to give the required ten-day notice for the appeal which Westfield/UTC Ventures had filed in order to gain approval for the signs.
"The project has the potential to cause significant direct, indirect, or cumulative adverse impacts (if not all such impacts) on the environment, including, among other things, aesthetic impacts, traffic impacts, and inconsistencies with Respondents' land use policies and regulations," reads an excerpt from the lawsuit.
And while the lawsuit makes its way through the courts, Westfield has been lobbying the City to get changes made to the municipal code which would allow such wall signs on the outside of buildings.
Recent lobbying disclosures show the company is busy lobbying city officials to support "potential sign ordinance revisions" at the UTC Mall, Horton Plaza, and the Mission Valley Mall.
Judge Timothy Taylor, who recently presided over the Tourism Marketing District lawsuit and the controversial plan to renovate Balboa Park, will hear the case on May 28.
Visit the link below to read the lawsuit and the recent lobbying disclosure