New sign approved for Ocean’s Eleven

OCEANSIDE — Ocean’s Eleven Casino got the green light from the Planning Commission for a new illuminated sign Sept. 11.

A proposal four year ago to put in a changeable copy readerboard sign at the casino, which sits just off I-5 and Mission Avenue, was met with strong community opposition. 

A request last year to install a nondigital sign that was four feet taller also fell flat.

Plans are to replace the current 20-year-old sign with one that is equal in height and area. The new sign will have a north and south viewer orientation and changeable static display. The sign column will be strong enough to support a digital billboard, but a digital sign is not proposed.

“It will not be a digital display,” Mary Wright, city planning consultant, said.

About half a dozen speakers asked for assurance the new sign would not be digital. Many said they objected to the previously proposed digital sign and were part of the 2,000 signatures against it. Planning commissioners had questions on how quickly the static sign could be changed to a digital one.

There was not a direct answer to what it would take to convert the sign. City staff said the sign “is not especially wired” for digital display. An Ocean’s Eleven partner said the change would be costly.

The city agreement to allow Ocean’s Eleven to replace its sign spells out it will “not include digital displays or electronic messaging.” City Planner Jeff Hunt said any significant changes to the sign would need Planning Commission approval.

Commissioners were satisfied with the terms.

“The staff is doing an excellent job here in addressing that,” Commissioner Dennis Martinek said. “It provides the protection we want.”

The new sign will be 35 feet tall and have a 311-square-foot illuminated display. Richie Del Gatto, Western Signs and Awnings general manager, said the new sign will be less illuminated than the current one and have more brilliant colors.

A rendering of the sign showed an illuminated image of a sunset over Oceanside Pier, with “casino” in large letters above the image, and the casino’s freeway exit and hours spelled out below.

Mark Kelegian, Ocean’s Eleven managing partner, said the new sign will provide fresh advertising to bring in drive-by travelers, and let people know what games are played at the casino.

“The new sign will be contemporary and clean,” Kelegian said. “A sign is important these days. There’s a lot of competition. They have unlimited resources to attract customers away from Oceanside.”

Examples of change-out images to replace the 10-foot-by-18-foot picture of the sunset brought criticism.

Kelegian said he regrets the poor examples he drew from casino indoor television monitors, and promised outside signage would have minimal wording and be tasteful.

“We’re not putting something up that’s objectionable,” Kelegian said “We’ll advertise in the most tasteful way possible. We won’t let you down.”

All said they appreciate Ocean’s Eleven long-standing business presence in the city. The casino has been in operation since 1997.

Following the meeting Oceanside resident Victor Roy, who was among those with concerns, said he is OK with the new sign.

“I’m fine with them updating their sign, provided no digital entitlements are included,” Roy said.

If there is no opposition to Planning Commission approval within 10 days, Ocean’s Eleven will move forward with replacing its sign. Kelegian said the casino would like to have a new sign in place by the end of the year.

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