A Cottage Grove Avenue resident whose home is an “eyesore,” according to the San Mateo city attorney, may be forced to remove 73 square feet of written statements from the outside of the building.
According to City Attorney Shawn Mason, the city of San Mateo filed a civil complaint seeking an injunction against Estrella Benavides to force her to comply with city sign ordinances.
In question is the size and placement of the multitude of signs that bear passages against the U.S. government, which she said uses witchcraft, mind control and technology to abuse the poor and force people such as convicted murderer Scott Peterson to commit atrocities.
The injunction — filed in San Mateo County Superior Court — will likely take between six and eight months to process if it is issued by the court. A deadline for compliance will be set at that time, according to Mason.
If it does not lead to an agreement between the city and Benavides, the city will enter into a civil trial against her.
“In general, our approach is to not criminalize violations of our code, and I think that it’s unlikely that a court would want to put her in jail if we were to establish a violation,” Mason said. “[The house] is not an imminent threat to safety — it’s an eyesore.”
The legal action by the city comes after exhaustive city meetings, private meetings and repeated requests to reduce the size of the signs to the city’s accepted maximum of 10 square feet of signage.
According to city code, properties must not have any signs on the roof or that exceed six square feet in size.
The compensation from the civil case could offset the city’s costs for removing and covering the signs, an expensive and invasive last-resort endeavor, because the signs are on both sides of her roof, her garage door and windows, in addition to several homemade banners.
“If the court issues the injunction and she fails to comply, she could be held in contempt,” Mason said.