It’s time to take down the illegal, ugly signs La Jolla merchants

A friend meeting me for lunch in La Jolla a couple of Sundays ago arrived at the restaurant obviously agitated. He slipped into the booth and threw back his head and groaned, “Ergh, I feel like I’ve
just been attacked by everybody’s agendas!”

“What do you mean by that?” I asked.

On June 18 this Verizon Wireless sign on Pearl Street was placed in the middle of the sidewalk. This couple had to separate to talk around it.

“Signs. Signs. They’re everywhere in this town. Signs for open houses. Signs for pizza slices. Signs for flowers and manicures and massages. Signs for car wash. Political signs. Signs for SALES. SALES. SALES. In other words, visual pollution, the contamination of the environment from human activities.”

“Oh that,” I laughed, handing him the wine list. “Welcome to a tough economy where everyone is just trying to survive.”

But he wouldn’t be soothed.“It’s not right. It’s not legal. It’s ugly and it’s disturbing because it’s clutter. Visiting La Jolla used to be a pleasurable and picturesque experience …”

On my drive home, I had to admit my friend had a point. Sure, there are more important things to fret about than street-sign clutter, but there is indeed an insidious and invasive increase of such in almost
every neighborhood in La Jolla (2012 elections notwithstanding).

The Light has broached this subject in editorials before. Perhaps it’s time to remind residents and businesses of the sign laws and violation consequences.

According to the San Diego Municipal Code (peruse the 40-plus pages of sign regulations at

It is unlawful to do the following:
1) Place, post, paint or secure any sign, pennant, flag, banner,
balloon, or similar attention-seeking device on public property or
within the public right-of-way unless otherwise provided in the
Municipal Code or specific state statute;
2) Place any lettering, card, poster, or notice of any kind on any
curb, sidewalk, street, pole, post, utility box, hydrant, bridge,
tree, building, or other surface that is located on public property or
in the public right-of-way unless otherwise provided in the Municipal
Code or specific state statute;
3) Display any sign without the required Sign Permit Sticker; or
4) Erect any sign on any premises contrary to the provisions of this division.
(b) Violations of any provisions of this division shall be subject to
the enforcement provisions of Chapter 12, Article 1. Violations of
this division shall be treated as strict liability offenses regardless
of intent. —Effective 12-12-2001.

The Dunn Foundation, which concerns itself with the quality of the visual environment on a national basis, reports on its website that “visual pollution results in the homogenization of our communities and our loss of sense of place.” The foundation goes on to recommend that “A community’s appearance should express uniqueness while reflecting its history, present vitality and future potential. It should be coherent and vibrant, not cluttered with visual pollution.”

It’s been suggested, that if enough La Jollans stop by to complain to a business tainting the town with an illegal sign, those ugly, intrusive placards will come down quietly and without the need for official reports.
Maybe sending the offenders a copy of this column will work, too. I sure hope so.

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Posted by Staff on Jun 20, 2012. Filed under News, Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

12 Comments for “It’s time to take down the illegal, ugly signs La Jolla merchants”

  1. Bill

    BevMo, please remove your UGLY and ILLEGAL sign from in front of your store. It's not on your property, so you can't place it there. It's illegal and you've been reported to the City Compliance office.

  2. Roy

    Seal Watch and Friends of Seals, Please remove your UGLY and ILLEGAL sign from the Children's Pool. It's not on your property, so you can't place it there. It's illegal and you've been reported to the City Compliance office.
    Also your annoying Bullhorn.

    • bigdipper

      Maybe you can get signs removed elsewhere but not at Children's Pool. Our lawyer has the City Attorney by the short hairs there. Code Compliance got those complaints 2 years ago. They were DOA. We cannot be moved. We own that sidewalk. We can use a bullhorn all we want there too. Bryan Pease says so.

      • Christopher

        You don't own anything, it's owned by the City, and Not by "Taser me" Bryan Pease. I can't even bring my 22mo old daughter to come enjoy the water at Children's pool due to fear of being yelled at, cursed at, or even being spitted upon only because we love the Ocean and want to use that instrument (CP) that was built for Children. We love seals, but we love to dive/swim and enjoy all of Nature for what it is for. Your group causes more Noise pollution and harm to the seals than those divers on the CP beach minding their own business. There would be no ProBeach Access signs if your group would stop the non-sense. Go volunteer at Sea World and actually do something positve for the animals, FOS is a front for extremism and doesn't even help the Seals in any true form or fashion, including in other countries like Mexico, where they really need help.

    • James

      Seal Watch and Friends of Seals' signs are no more ugly then the Pro Beach access signs.

  3. La Jolla store owner

    Go to Hong Kong and tell me that we have too many signs. As it is we are over regulated and its bad for business. parking is over regulated and it is hurting my store. The city keeps painting more curbs red and installing more meters. Customers have a hard time parking and give up. They created the parking problem. Its time for La Jolla to incorporate so we can run our own city on our own terms.

    • James

      I'm sorry I don't think I've ever seen a parking meter in La Jolla?

    • 2States

      We don't live in Hong Kong. Yours seems a foolish analogy. Do you believe locating there (w/ unlimited sign pollution ) would help your business? Deal with finding parking solutions so that people can continue to stroll…. a long standing marketing tool that brings / has brought travelers and locals alike, into various venders. As a 3rd gen La Jollan, I spend most time now in the Rocky Mtns to avoid that very homogenization, sensory overload and glut that business in the village seems to trend towards now.

  4. bigdipper

    I help run an unpermitted sales table at Children's Pool. City codes to limit signs, selling, obstructions are not enforced there. The one who can afford the most signs, tables, bullhorns, can sway the most people and make the most money. That is just how it is. Nobody can do anything about it except the City Attorney.

  5. LJlikestocomplain

    What about all of the ugly election signs? Can we get rid of those as well?

    People who are complaining about this need to get a hobby

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