By Steve Magdziak
The Mission Viejo (MV) city council voted 5-0 to approve the concept of getting 60-plus new 8'x30" banner signs installed on light poles. The banners were moving forward until I raised more questions during a Community Services Commission meeting. I was told I couldn't disagree with what the council wanted; that I had to go with the majority, that answering my questions was just belaboring a point that had already been decided. I asked, “What is the point of a commission if your only option is to agree with what is passed? Why would the public come and offer their opinion? Why not just start a club? Why not just get up, put a sign on my chair with a YES vote and leave?”
The banners were to be installed east and west on Alicia at Marguerite by the lake. When comparing codes in MV to cities 50-plus miles away, a disturbing trend emerged. It seems that the larger the signs in a city, the poorer the residents; the smaller the signs, the wealthier the residents. We already have 32 banners in MV year-round and sometimes 10 or more banners are added to that figure. In my opinion, they cause blight and obstruct the view of the greenery we are so lucky to have in MV. With the addition of the new banners being proposed, we would have had 92-plus banners in MV. How many more banners would we need to champion everyone’s cause; 500? 1,000?
Even though I might like and support the cause that is printed on the banners, I also look at the banner as a banner – and not what’s on it. In my opinion, we don't need banners on all the light poles in MV. The vote was 6-1 on the banner motions, with mine being the only no vote. This is not surprising since I am usually outvoted 6-1 on items that increase government spending.
The banner discussion, which went on for hours, is recorded but unfortunately some of the recording is missing due to a technical difficulty. My last motion, to recommend that the city council wait and not rush this, passed 4-3. This too was surprising, but in a good way. The audio of this vote is missing. Although that motion passed, the commission on a 6-1 vote eventually did still OK the banners.
Commissioner Wendy Bucknum said she wanted the signs LARGE so people can see them when traveling 45+ mph by the lake. This came after my comment about signs in the city being a driving distraction. I am not surprised by her comment since she supports large digital billboards, high-density housing and development on open space, all of which leads to more traffic, overcrowding of MV schools, etc. Commissioner Bucknum and I are diametrically opposed when it comes to government spending. Whereas I consistently vote to allow the individual, family, church, non-profit or business to decide how to spend their money, Bucknum consistently votes to fund or subsidize government-mandated projects with tax dollars.
After the commission voted to recommend approval of the banners after setting some general guidelines, it was sent back to the City Council. The council that originally passed these banners took another vote and overturned themselves 5-0 not to move forward with the banners. Kudos to the council for re-thinking their position on the banners. Now if only the commission on which I serve would demonstrate the same leadership...
Contributing Editor Steve Magdziak is a small business owner and a resident of