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Informal Opinion From Council Unanimously Against Living Mascots
By Eric Heinz
In the first reading of an ordinance that would amend the city’s sign laws to outlaw “living mascots,” employees who dress up or perform as a way of advertising, on public land, San Clemente City Council members all said they would vote in favor of the ban.
The ordinance went through its first reading during Tuesday night’s meeting, and five representatives of Liberty Tax Service spoke out against the proposed law. The business has a person dress up like the Statue of Liberty, the business’ mascot, to bring attention to itself.
Council members said they were concerned about how mascots could be interpreted as a sign and that sign would be not only infringing on the city’s right-of-way but blocking other signs. A key element of the ban council members pointed to was public safety issues.
Councilwoman Kathy Ward, who introduced the ordinance, said the mascots are a blatant contribution to distracted driving.
Brenda Yecke, a Liberty Tax Service branch owner, said she thinks banning the mascot is a limitation on free speech and would deter future businesses with similar advertising methods from coming to San Clemente.
In April, the city’s Planning Commission reviewed the ordinance and approved it for City Council’s consideration.
In order to get the first mascot approved initially, as the form of advertising was out of compliance when the business first started using it, Mayor Chris Hamm alluded to Liberty Tax Service altering their mascot in order to comply with the city’s law.
City Council will read the ordinance at least two more times before it is adopted or rejected. Liberty Tax Service representatives said most of their foot traffic is referenced to seeing the living mascot waving at passersby. Although Liberty Tax Service was the only business represented during Tuesday’s meeting, Hamm said he has seen other living mascots advertising while dressed as slices of pizza or sub-sandwiches in the city.