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Is the Norms sign eye-grabbing or an eyesore?

As Claremont’s new Norms diner nears completion, the 24-hour eatery is gaining local attention not only for its food, but also for the impossibility to miss its towering, orange sign.

With its trademark neon-orange lettering, the restaurant’s billboard made the long trek up on Wednesday, July 13, beckoning hungry drivers on the 10 freeway to make the stop into Auto Center Drive’s latest development.  

“Businesses prefer the higher signs,” said Director of Community Development Brian Desatnik in reference to the height of Claremont’s freeway signs. “We are trying to let people see them in time to exit.”

And who could miss it? The behemoth-like black pole bearing the diner’s name stands 99 feet tall from ground level, 54 feet of it towering above the freeway grade, said Mr. Desatnik.

Norms Restaurants is the first to put a sign of its stature in Claremont, says Mr. Desatnik, and it’s by no coincidence that it hovers above the Indian Hill Boulevard exit alone. The height exceeds the city’s normal limit. According to Claremont city ordinance, freeway signs are not allowed to exceed 45 feet above the freeway grade, he says.

However, Norms officials voiced worry that at those height requirements their sign would be hidden by the vegetation growing near the freeway exit. In the end, the Architectural Commission approved the restaurant chain’s request for a variance to the rule.

“It’s their trademark sign, and it’s more vertical instead of horizontal,” Mr. Desatnik said. “There was concern that the trees would block it from view.”

In addition to Norms, other new stores are looking to add signs of monumentous proportions to nearby complexes. Super King Markets, a new grocery store opening in October of this year, has an approved 80-foot giant going up on the other side of Auto Center Drive, said Mr. Desatnik, who claims it to be a much bulkier sign than that of Norms. Though Super King’s sign is a whopper, it still does not go beyond city limits.

Despite these recent giants looming there way into Claremont, the city claims it has no plan to change its rules in regards to the size of signs allowed in Claremont anytime soon.

“We review them based on how the signs look in proportion to the center,” Mr. Desatnik said. “If we didn’t have an ordinance, people could build whatever they wanted. We have different size limits for every type of sign across the city.” 

—Beth Hartnett

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