Heinous on the Half-Shell: ‘Pringle’s Folly’ ARTIC Can Still Be Made Uglier By Adding Huge Electronic Billboards

I would love to nominate Art Marroquin for this week’s Skadooshy Award for nailing the Front Page article in today’s Register, entitled “Icon or Eyesore?” It is a total send up of the $182MM ARTIC, complete with pics, covering how incredibly ugly the damn thing is when lit at night. But the Register makes it hard to do that online…since you cannot actually SEE the article on their website unless you go looking for it, and then I was only able to see the “Text Only” version, which is completely sanitized of some controversial quotes included in the paper version, and runs sans some pretty good photography.  VERY small print off to the side promises the “graphic” but as of 8:49 am on Sunday, the link leads to a blank page.


Icon or eyesore?

Graphic: Icon or eyesore?
Related article



No articles found.

I did find one file by google image searching the photographer, Bill Alkofer, so this is what they weren’t showing you:

ARTIC at night

“We’re sorry to have to tell you this, but the biopsy confirms that the growth on your skin is aggressively malignant.”

And this reference will make sense in a moment:

IMAGE Jack Sparrow’s compass

Like the Isla de Muerta in the Pirates of the Caribbean movie, which can only be found by those who know where it is, the Register is actually producing treasure — but they sure do make it hard to find for those not getting the dead tree version delivered to their front doors. Since those who haven’t given up on the Register and continue to feed the beast are often STILL not getting the paper they pay for, that makes for a whole lot of people who are not getting this news.

Bummer. Because for all the flack we have given Art Marroquin for not covering stories he thinks are “in the weeds” (like the Anaheim City Council’s blatant over-reach of authority in issuing bonds that feed from the General Fund without voter approval by pretending to be another agency altogether) there is an honest to God reporter in there when the Grand Avenue control freaks let him come out and play.

Perhaps the Register let him loose with a keyboard and the snarky sense of humor we could see lingering under the surface, because the owners are still pissed at the pig in a poke that Anaheim Public Works Director Natalie Meeks tried to sell them in a naming rights deal that collapsed last year, opening the door to this sort of clear-eyed coverage.

The Register does report that “Anaheim has used an opening-day promise of 10,000 riders to woo companies that might provide advertising or other support for ARTIC, city records show. But an analysis last year by the Orange County Register found that the actual number appears closer to 5,000, counting travelers as they both come and go.”

I am tempted to simply copy and paste the whole thing for the reading pleasure of our OJB family, but that would be wrong (and illegal) so I can only offer the link … and some really good lift quotes.

If you are not a Register subscriber you will have to go pay for the one-shot fee to read it, or wait a week for them to release it to the public. Go ahead, this one is worth paying for, trust me. SOMEONE has to pay real reporters to do real work, otherwise the world is left with mere bloggers to cover the news, and God knows we don’t do it justice, although we DO actually call the ARTIC an armadillo long before the Register snagged the quote.

‘By day, county Supervisor Shawn Nelson sees a sand crab when he drives past the new transit hub in his district. By night, he thinks “disco roller rink” when colorful lights illuminate the building.

“I don’t think this is what the taxpayers had in mind,” said Nelson, who is also board chairman of the Orange County Transportation Authority.’

(NOT included in the online version but offered in my dead tree article was this nugget from County Supe Todd Spitzer):

“I don’t think it’s iconic. I think it’s an eyesore and one of the ugliest things that I’ve ever seen. And all those flashing lights at night just make it a hazard for people driving north on the 57 freeway at night.”

 Spitzer’s take on the glaring visual obstacle of ARTIC lit at night says nothing of the billboards to be considered by the Anaheim City Council on this very Tuesday night, as Natalie Meeks appeals the Planning Commission’s denial of her biggest revenue stream to date (naming rights sponsors not yet stepping up to cover the $3MM plus nut she is stuck with.)

Item #25 MISCELLANEOUS PERMIT NO. 2012-00558A  (DEV2010-00043B)

OWNER:  City of Anaheim, 200 S. Anaheim Blvd., CA 92805

APPLICANT:  City of Anaheim, Public Works Department, 200 S. Anaheim Blvd., CA 92805

LOCATION:  2626 East Katella Avenue

To amend the previously-approved Coordinated Sign Program for the ARTIC Project, to include two double-sided and one single-sided off-site advertising signs.  The proposed amendments would 1) replace two previously-approved double-sided 19′ 6″ wide by 7′ tall business identification monument signs on Katella Avenue and Douglass Road with one double-sided up to 14.5′ wide and up to 35′ foot tall and one single-sided up to 14.5′ wide and up to 35′ foot tall business identification monument signs (that include approximately 10′-2″ wide x 18′-6″ foot tall digital billboard faces to be used for off-site advertising purposes; and 2) add an approximately 84′ tall double-sided v-shaped digital billboard with 48′ wide x 14′ tall digital sign faces to be used for off-site advertising purposes near State Route 57.

Yes, you read that correctly. The City of Anaheim has outlawed billboards elsewhere, but now wants to permit replacement of previously approved signage with signs significantly larger … LIKE REALLY BIG. One is EIGHTY FOUR FEET TALL, which easily rises above the 57 freeway, (which I suppose is necessary if that is your target market)

But consider that the butt end of the ARTIC station is only 80 feet in height, rising to 120 feet at the arched entry.  So the billboard is taller than the back end of the “iconic” station that is supposed to be the centerpiece of the project, and the signage itself will likely block the view of their architectural masterpiece-which might actually be good for cutting the glare except that the billboards themselves are electronic and thus ADD TO the visual hazard.  Note that for all of the City of Anaheim’s love of artists’ renderings of cool stuff they would like to build with our public funds, they seem to have skipped any depiction of the signage in context to the station.

While the State forbids billboards as visual distractions, Lou Correa sponsored Senate Bill 694 (SB 694) permitting them at sports venues and transit centers. How convenient.  The staff report does not cite a need for this signage to direct passengers in any way, the entire stated purpose is to generate revenue. In short, billboards are blight if private owners want to drive revenues but perfectly OK if Natalie Meeks needs to beef up her budget? Is this really what we are down to? Permit blight or the train station many citizens and public officials objected to in the first place will come out of our General Fund? And Natalie Meeks just got a raise…for not being able to project a budget…great work Anaheim. Read more in the documents here:

Staff Report offered to City Council for Tuesday night

Staff Report offered to Planning Commission November 3, 2014

My personal favorite, the meeting minutes from the Planning Commission of November 3, 2014. Good reading.

And now, back to Art Marroquin’s coverage of ARTIC, in which he offers the reactions of some train passengers:

“I could understand building a new station if there were cracks on the floors or if this place was falling apart, but the station they have is pretty clean and safe,” Alice Sparks of Cerritos said as she and her husband, Charlie, waited for a Metrolink train at the old Anaheim depot. “Maybe the city thinks that building a new station will bring more people in?”

Rudolph Morgenfruh of Anaheim, who occasionally rides the Metrolink to Los Angeles, offered this about ARTIC’s structure: “I don’t think it makes sense to force people to climb two flights of stairs and cross a long catwalk, just to come back down another flight of stairs to access to tracks.  “It’s an abomination.” ‘

 Also not included online was a quote from passenger Steve McKenzie of Santa Ana who thinks it “looks like a worm.”

That imagery was echoed online by passenger John Tran, who compared it to a “giant worm,” but apparently not in a bad way., and who looked forward to closer inspection.  But this statement is priceless:

Cirangle, the architect who designed ARTIC, said he wasn’t too worried that people compare the terminal to insects, mollusks or armadillos.

He wanted to create a building that got people to think, particularly about the future of mass transit.

“It’s cool that people look at it and make some type of an association,” Cirangle said.

“It shows that they’re personalizing it.” ‘

Oh yes, those of use who are paying for this $182 million monument to Curt Pringle’s fragile ego are indeed personalizing it.  Trust me on that.

About Cynthia Ward

I am a truth-teller. It gets me in trouble. But if you ask me if a dress makes you look fat, I will tell you so, and help select another, before you go on television and realize it for yourself. My real friends are expected to be truthful with me as well. A secret shared will be taken to my grave, but lie to me, and it will end up here…on these pages… especially if you are tasked with the stewardship of public resources. I am a registered Republican who disdains the local GOP power structure, a born-again Christian who supports everyone’s right to spend their lives with the partner of their choosing. I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister. I am a loyal friend to those who merit that friendship and when crossed I am a bitch with a capital C. I do not fit into a box, nor do I see others through the stereotypes that politics and public affairs so often tries to shoehorn us into. I think for myself, and so do you. Welcome to our shared space in this world.