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City Life: Malls take work, not magic

September 13, 2010|By Steve Smith

Have you heard about the plans for two big LED signs at the "Bermuda" Triangle Square mall?

I have. The signs, which have generated a tremendous amount of mail and e-mail to the members of the Costa Mesa City Council, are the latest attempt to attract visitors to the center where businesses go to disappear.

As currently proposed, the signs would be installed on the northeast and southwest corners of the mall. Reading some residents' comments, one would think that the signs would be big enough to be seen from outer space.

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The opposition to the signs comes from a few residents who believe that the large, lighted billboards will cast unwanted light at night, disturbing their peace. Others believe there are safety issues. That is, if you are watching the sign, you aren't watching the road.

Still others don't want the sign because they believe it will look trashy or tacky, like Times Square or the Las Vegas strip, which happen to be two of the top tourist destinations in the country.

The trashy/tacky position makes me smile, for the businesses across the street from Triangle Square include:

•Two bars with a total of 16 neon window signs featuring various types of beer;

A psychic;

A spa with two signs featuring its massage services;

Two jewelry stores with a total of five "cash for gold" signs; and

Two retail ticket scalpers — sorry, I mean "brokers";

Based on that, it seems to me that two nice signs will add a bit of class to the area.

Greenlaw Partners, the mall's new owners, could be doing a much better public relations job promoting the signs. But it takes two, and the city hasn't exactly rolled out the welcome mat to its new business partners.

We're in the early stages of a fragile recovery, and when we have new owners ready to invest heavily in a mall that has been a loser from day one, we should be supporting them, not treating them like a stepchild.

OK, so you don't like the signs. Instead of taking your ball and going home, how about offering some practical alternatives to increase business there?

Instead, we get Bronx cheers. We get opposition from residents who want the mall occupied but only on their terms — only according to what they believe may look good and which won't affect them one bit. They want a thriving mall and the attached revenue, yes, but they want it to happen with magic.

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