Tuesday night’s Garden Grove city council meeting could have been confused with a courtroom drama; all that was missing was a heated cross-examination.
Instead, Jared Hardin, who had hoped to erect a 59-foot electronic billboard to advertise his business, Garden Grove Hyundai, will have to wait 90 days to get the final word on whether he can attract more customers from the Garden Grove Freeway.
Dozens of residents who opposed the Hyundai electronic billboard spoke Tuesday night, asking city council to put themselves in the residents’ shoes.
The large television-like marquee, they argued, would create problems that were likened to the existing nature of Las Vegas; excessive illumination, distracted driving that would lead to unsafe streets and a drop in housing value due to poor aesthetics.
“These billboards would diminish the quality of life of the residents,” Dzung Bui, a resident who would be affected by the L.E.D. sign said. “How do people relax after a hard day of work if there are images [on the billboard] changing every eight seconds?”
Hardin agreed that the sign resembled that of a large television and was sympathetic to the residents’ concerns but believed if he built the sign, they would come.
Proof in point, his calculations show a 30 percent sales increase, he said.
Residents understood the desire for the sign: Garden Grove Hyundai provides over $1 million in tax revenue a year; a 30 percent increase would increase that figure dramatically, but, everything can’t be about money.
“We need money, we agree we need money,” Cal Nguyen, another resident said. “But, we need to be safe. We don’t need to be like Las Vegas with a sign on every corner.”
John Muse, a registered civil engineer who was involved in the planning commission of the sign, tried to diffuse the arguments explaining that the illumination of the sign would be less than that needed to light a dim movie theater.
Muse also explained that despite the aesthetic problems of a large sign, there are no studies that reflect an increase in traffic accidents due to large signage.
“There are worse problems with the freeway if you compare it to the sign,” he said.
Children from the affected neighborhood spoke to the council as well, asking council members if they could “guarantee that a driver would not be distracted and hit us?” as they walked home from school.
Mak Bui explained that the large screen would be in his view as he studied and did homework in his room. “Do you want me to live like that?” Bui asked.
City Council members agreed with the residents that more planning was needed before a final decision could be made and have placed a 90-day stay on the building of the sign.
Hardin expressed that the last thing he wanted was for the sign to disrupt the lives of residents and is willing to work with them to find a solution to his needs that would be in favor of those living in the area.
“The one thing that I don’t want to happen is for this big TV to shine in the windows of of [the residents’] houses,” Hardin said.
The city council members agreed and have given Hardin and Garden Grove Hyundai 90 days come up with a new plan.