Sign crackdown gets property owner sued

Shopping center ordered to limit the amount of tenants’ advertisements

SAN MATEO — The owner of a shopping center near downtown faces lawsuits from at least one retail tenant after a city decision he says will force him to remove key signs from the center.

The San Mateo City Council voted 4-0 Monday to uphold a July 11 Planning Commission decision ordering Dion Heffran to reduce the number of signs at his Gateway Crossings shopping center. Heffran said he appealed the Planning Commission’s vote because it would mean removing a multi-tenant “monument” sign — the primary way motorists can see which shops are in the center as they drive by.

“Our signage will be reduced by 70 percent,” according to Heffran. Four shops — including Shay Nicole Donuts, El Noraya Tacqueria, Pizza Hut and a laundromat, will be nearly invisible from East Third Avenue without the monument sign, he said.

Now, lawyers representing the 7-Eleven in his shopping center are suing him over the reduction in signage, according to Heffran. Amy Abdo, the attorney representing 7-Eleven in the suit, did not return calls seeking comment Tuesday.

The current sign ordinance restricts Gateway Crossings to 200 square feet of total signage, and was triggered when Heffran applied for permits to renovate the facades of his retail buildings, according to City Councilmember Carole Groom. Heffran argued that city codes would allow his monument sign to remain if it’s not part of the renovation proposal, but the City Council disagreed.

“It was a question of following the guidelines, and he didn’t do any of that,” Groom said. “He chose to renovate the building without following the decisions that were made.”

Meanwhile, the San Mateo Area Chamber of Commerce is wrapping up an analysis of San Mateo’s sign ordinance, which was last updated in 2000, according to chamber CEO Linda Asbury. Although Asbury did not cite any specific problems with the existing ordinance, she said changes that were enacted to prevent freeway billboards are now creating issues for other businesses.

When the chamber’s study is complete, Asbury anticipates urging the city to be more flexible.

“There’s a lot of room for compromise and discussion,” Groom said. “Our goal is to have the best projects economically and architecturally.”

bwinegarner@examiner.comBay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Recology executives have acknowledged overcharging city ratepayers. (Mira Laing/2017 Special to S.F. Examiner)
Recology to repay customers $95M in overcharged garbage fees, city attorney says

San Francisco’s waste management company, Recology, has agreed to repay its customers… Continue reading

A construction worker watches a load for a crane operator at the site of the future Chinatown Muni station for the Central Subway on Tuesday, March 3, 2021. (Sebastian Miño-Bucheli / Special to the S.F. Examiner)
Major construction on Central Subway to end by March 31

SFMTA board approves renegotiated contract with new deadline, more contractor payments

(Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Settlement clears path for all youth, high school sports to resume in California

John Maffei The San Diego Union-Tribune All youth and high school sports… Continue reading

State to reserve 40 percent of COVID-19 vaccines for hard-hit areas

By Eli Walsh Bay City News Foundation State officials said Thursday that… Continue reading

Neighbors and environmental advocates have found the Ferris wheel in Golden Gate Park noisy and inappropriate for its natural setting. <ins>(</ins>
Golden Gate Park wheel wins extension, but for how long?

Supervisors move to limit contract under City Charter provision requiring two-thirds approval

Most Read