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Time to Bag Pole Sign?

Test under way to prove value of freeway advertising

SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. — Owners of a Chevron gasoline station along I-5 in San Clemente, Calif., have put a bag over their branded sign. It’s part of a test to see how much business will drop if the pole sign has to be taken down, according to a report in the Orange County Register.

The city is requiring the sign be removed as a condition for upgrading the gas station and adding a convenience store, and the owners want to decide whether it’s worth the investment before moving forward with the plan.

G&M, which owns two gas stations in San Clemente, wants to remodel the Chevron station and turn the former mechanics’ bays into a convenience store.

Mick Gray, the permit applicant, told the City Council there would be no improvements to the site if the sign couldn’t stay because the loss of business would mean it’s not worth the $750,000 investment.

Now G&M is covering the sign to find out how much business it could cost the station.

“If it has no effect, we will go ahead and go forward and take down the sign and renovate the building,” Gray told the newspaper. “If it has a negative effect, we’ll know for sure.”

A sign ordinance adopted in 1981 included a provision to get rid of freeway-oriented businesses’ tall pole signs if they make changes in the use of property.