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Taller Sign Approved for Oxnard Auto Mall

Business: Council's decision goes against nearby residents' wishes and prompts neighboring Ventura center to consider increasing size of its highway marker.


OXNARD — The city's approval of a taller sign for the auto center has the nearby Ventura auto mall talking about upping the size of its own sign.

"If Oxnard gets a bigger sign, Ventura will want to stay competitive," said John Masterson, a spokesman for the Ventura Auto Center.

On Tuesday, the Oxnard City Council voted 4 to 1 to approve a 74-foot sign to replace the 10-year-old 65-foot auto center sign along the Ventura Freeway near Rose Avenue.

Besides being outdated, the current sign's visibility was reduced by 15 feet because of improvements to the Rose Avenue interchange, said Lawrence Lee, president of the Oxnard Auto Center Assn.

"We do not have any highway visibility," Lee said. "We need a more effective sign."

The $1-million replacement sign will have a decorative mission bell cupola, a rotating logo section and light-emitting diode visual display.

"It's going to be dynamic, but it's not going to knock people over," said Rocky Gruner of Chief Neon Sign Co. "It is reduced light compared to what is existing."

Just north on the freeway, the Ventura Auto Center has a 60-foot-tall sign, Masterson said. But its base sits below freeway level, making it considerably less effective, he said.

Depending on the success of the new Oxnard sign, the Ventura dealers may want to try for a new sign of their own, Masterson said.

"There is a rivalry, obviously," he said.

Rivalry or not, several residents told the Oxnard council on Tuesday night that they did not want a larger sign.

"This is not a competition that Oxnard wants to win," Dineane Sperske said. "These huge signs are very out of place in our environment and they should not be built."

The Oxnard Auto Center had originally requested an 87-foot sign, but after discussions with various neighborhood councils, it reduced its request to 74 feet. The Planning Commission and the neighborhood councils had asked that the sign not exceed 65 feet.

"Our primary objection to the sign is that we will be able to read it from our neighborhood," resident James Mason said.

Other residents said they could not tolerate the light pollution from the auto center.

"Vista Ford lights up my living room," Stella Godinez said. "I do not need to turn on my lights."

However, some people said they supported the auto center because of the amount of tax money and jobs it brings to Oxnard.

"Nobody has mentioned the contribution that these dealers make to the community," said Ronald Regalado, who works at the auto center. "I, for one, welcome the extra lighting" because it seems to draw an increased police presence.

Councilman Thomas Holden cast the lone dissenting vote.

"I just don't see this as an item that is going to break the auto center's success," Holden said. "That 9 feet is going to create animosity."

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