Updated at 9:55 p.m. Oct. 18, 2012
Preston’s Tire is pulling out of local politics.
A day after City Hall was notified about his red-white-and-blue roadway signs with patriotic white stars saying “Choose Preston’s Tire,” owner Preston Eherenfeldt said he was taking down his 15 “satirical” signs.
For three days, his tire and wheel shop at 8300 Center Drive at the head of Commercial Street gained name recognition with signs designed to look like traditional election signs. At least one was planted amid genuine campaign signs at Jackson Drive and Fletcher Parkway.
Only one problem: La Mesa’s sign ordinance doesn’t allow commercial signs of this type on public rights-of-way.
A city planner Wednesday said the signs could lead to fines after a warning and citation process.
Thursday morning, owner Eherenfeldt defended the signs and told Patch: “I’m being satirical, that’s all. I have a right to free speech.”
In a phone interview, Eherenfeldt said he could give a tour of town and point out “a plethora” of business signs in the public rights-of-way.
“Why do I get this honor [of being singled out for a story]?” he asked. “I’m sure there are more pressing news than this.” He asked how many crimes were committed in La Mesa on Wednesday.
Eherenfeldt said he had cut his workforce to 10 employees amid the tough economy and had been in business on Center Drive at least 10 years.
“Every business in this city is really hurting,” he said, depicting his sign promotion as a “parody of elections” and “I’m not a bad guy for doing that.”
On Wednesaday, a store employee said Preston’s Tire had posted such signs in the past. The current batch—which include signs near Grossmont Center and the downtown Village—were planted Tuesday, the employee said.
Allen Edwards, the city’s code compliance officer, Thursday afternoon said he has received no complaints about the Preston's Tire signs but indicated the city would ask the business to take them down.
But in a comment posted below, Eherenfeldt said a city representative called him Thursday afternoon, and “I am now well versed in the city’s sign ordinance and will be removing all 15 signs I put out.”
Under Code 15.10.040, “Sign regulations,” prohibited signs are specified.
“The following sign types and features are prohibited in all zones, unless otherwise provided. … Signs located in the public right-of-way or on public property except those required by a governmental agency,” the law says.
Political campaign signs in La Mesa are allowed for 45 days before an election, but must be taken down by five days after Election Day.