Local business owner Jim Lewis says it's time for the sign to come down, and he's jump-starting efforts to persuade the owner to let go of his grudge and get a successful business in the space.
The closed swimwear shop is on the corner of El Camino Real and Menlo Avenue, and is owned by Maurice Thoreson of Woodside. Following a police investigation into accusations he illegally towed 119 cars from the store's parking lot over a six-month period, shop owner Mr. Thoreson hung the sign.
Sgt. Prickett, then a line officer, was the investigating officer in the case.
Although the case was settled in 2000, and the business has since closed, the sign, now faded and torn, remains in the window.
Mr. Thoreson, who also owns the adjacent business, A Tan for All Seasons, could not be reached for comment.
"For that sign to be the first impression of our beautiful downtown area is just sad," said Mr. Lewis, a former Menlo Park resident who now lives in Palo Alto. "This dumb sign is sitting in the window, and it's just counter-productive."
Mr. Lewis brought up the issue at the City Council's Aug. 28 meeting, and urged council members to push Mr. Thoreson to take down the banner as part of efforts to revamp properties along El Camino Real.
Legally, the council has little say in the matter because political speech is not regulated by the city's sign ordinance, and is protected by the First Amendment, said City Attorney Bill McClure.
City Manager Glen Rojas said David Johnson, the city's business development manager, is in the process of asking Mr. Thoreson and property manager Douglas Wright to remove, or at least clean up, the sign.
A familiar face
Mr. Lewis has a big supporter in former councilman Nicholas Jellins, who also urged the council to address the sign.
At the meeting, he said the business is "smack dab at the heart of [the city's] commercial district," and it's worth a try to ask the owner to remove it.
Mr. Jellins said that when he was mayor in 2003, he wrote a letter and called Mr. Thoreson to discuss the matter, but he did not get a reply.
Mayor Kelly Fergusson asked Mr. Jellins to meet with Mr. Rojas and see if he could help the city persuade Mr. Thoreson to take down the sign. "If there is something I can do to help, I stand ready to do so," Mr. Jellins told the Almanac.
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