In the Pipeline: City should have tread lighter regarding sign

December 04, 2013|By Chris Epting
  • Johnny's Saloon owner Johnny Kresimir in front of the bar.
Johnny's Saloon owner Johnny Kresimir in front… (KEVIN CHANG, HB…)

Johnny Kresimir excuses himself during our conversation to recharge his cell phone for the third time that day.

He's never had to worry about that too much before but, given the national news attention, it now rings all day and night.

As many of you have heard, the sign on top of Johnny's Saloon on Beach Boulevard that reads, "Thank a veteran for your freedom," is being threatened after city code enforcement informed Kresimir that the sign is illegal.

Not because of its message, but because of where it sits — on the roof.

The thing is, nobody told Kresimir 10 years ago when he opened his business that it was illegal. The support that holds the sign has been up there for about 30 years.

All he wanted to do was honor this country's military (in honor of his dad, an immigrant who always honored veterans) and for years the sign has resonated in this town. After all, Huntington Beach has always shown great respect for the military.


But when word got out that the city seemed to be blindsiding Kresimir with a law of which he was never made aware, the TV trucks showed up.

Nobody is disputing what the law says. But a lot of people are upset with the way it is being enforced.

Clearly, there are better ways to handle this.

Rather than just slapping a notice on the door and giving the place 48 hours to remove the sign or pay a stiff penalty, city officials should have been meeting with Kresimir and trying to figure out — over 90 days — a sensible solution.

They obviously didn't know about Johnny's Saloon's social media clout. This is a solid local business that wasted no time in letting the world know what it was up against.

The result? The world supports Johnny's Saloon.

Kresimir has heard from hundreds of veterans; the messages roll in steadily each day.

Kresimir also explained to me that in fighting this, he is also setting an example for other small businesses.

It's hard enough trying to keep a small business running these days. The last thing anybody needs is code enforcement all of a sudden running around and finding something that had not been considered a problem before.

Had somebody been doing the job properly 10 years ago when Kresimir opened his bar, this would never have become an issue.

Right now the bottom line is this: Kresimir says either put the sign in a better place or let it stay right where it is.

The city is now working with him to figure out a positive solution.

Huntington Beach Independent Articles Huntington Beach Independent Articles