San Clemente, outlet center at odds over freeway-facing signs – Orange County Register

SAN CLEMENTE The city and the Outlets at San Clemente are headed to court over the outlet center’s business signs facing I-5.

Steve Craig, developer of the 52-acre outlet center at 101 W. Avenida Vista Hermosa, filed suit on April 28 after city staff said it would only approve six of 18 temporary banner signs displayed since August under renewals of permits the city issued previously.

Craig appealed staff’s decision to the Planning Commission, which reviewed arguments on Wednesday, June 21.

Based on commissioners’ interpretation of code definitions, the city announced Wednesday, June 28, that the outlets can apply for six banners. “Any business that continues to display unpermitted banners will be cited by code compliance,” the city announced.

Cecilia Gallardo-Daly, community development director, said via e-mail that citations have begun. “The temporary banners were only permitted until April 30, so businesses were cited beginning in May,” she wrote. “Remaining unpermitted banners will continue to be cited if not removed.”

Craig said the lawsuit, which asks a judge to issue an injunction, will proceed.

Skechers and GUESS are among 18 temporary banner signs that replaced blank walls in August 2016 at the Outlets at San Clemente. City says only six will be allowed. (File photo by Fred Swegles, Orange County Register/SCNG)

The lawsuit asserts that a 1998 development agreement with the city gives the outlets a right to freeway signage and the outlets should never have had to apply for what the city calls a “sign exception permit.”

The City Council approved the outlet center in 1998 without finalizing freeway-oriented signs. The center was part of a 248-acre development that took eight years to clear the Coastal Commission’s permitting process.

Grading began in 2006, stalling in 2008 when the economy collapsed. Construction of the outlets began in 2014, and on the 309-home Sea Summit community in 2015. Both projects opened to the public in…

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