Fremont residents angry over Newark’s ‘towering’ digital billboard

Getting some time today to focus on the blog. Here’s the first of a few ‘in-case-you-missed-it’ blogs from earlier this week:

A newly installed 85-foot-high sign on the Newark side of Interstate 880 has raised the ire of Fremont officials, as well as residents living on the east side of the freeway.

But it appears that there is little they can do about it, because the towering sign, which promotes several car lots at the nearby Newark Auto Mall, complies with city and state regulations.

Bob Reading is a longtime resident of Fremont’s 28 Palms neighborhood, which sits directly across the freeway, in the shadow of the sign.

Reading said the sign, which was installed last month next to NewPark Mall and I-880, near the intersection of Mowry School Road and John Muir Drive, is an “eyesore” that looms high above dozens of homes and backyards, damaging the area’s quality of life.

“People who are visiting see the sign and say, ‘Oh, God, what’s that?'” said Reading, 73. “I believe our property values are diminished because of this.”

Barbara Keenan, a neighborhood resident since 1967, said the “upscale look” that she and her close-knit neighbors spent decades maintaining in their cul-de-sac off Farwell Drive was immediately downgraded after the sign was installed. The Fremont residents are especially angry that Newark officials did not contact them before it was installed.

Keenan, 72, said she now refuses to shop at NewPark Mall or other Newark stores because she believes the city’s officials have shown residents a lack of respect. “Why should I give them my tax money when they’re going to treat us like this?” she said. “They’re acting like, ‘You’re not our taxpayers, so we’re going to do whatever we want.’ I think that’s very wrong.”

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Chris DeBenedetti

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