Huntington Beach bar at odds with city officials over sign supporting veterans


It isn't the message that has the bar owner and the city of Huntington Beach at odds, it's the sign itself.

Johnny Kresimir owns Johnny's Saloon and says the sign has been up for nearly 30 years.

When he took over the bar 11 years ago, the sign had the previous bar's name on it. He says he took out the proper permits to change the signage and put the following message up: "Thank a VETERAN for your FREEDOM!".

"If it's a matter of structural and safety, of course we want a safe sign, but they haven't talked about that," said Kresimir. "My understanding is rooftop bars are prohibitive because they're ugly, that's not an ugly sign."

A single complaint to the city of Huntington Beach is what started this battle. The bar was cited and initially given a couple of days to take it down. That angered a lot of the bar's customers - many of them who are vets.

"For me, the significance is the 27 years that my father spent in the Marine Corps and the 8 years that I spent in the military myself," said Bob White of Santa Ana. "This family has supported veterans, past and present, for as long as I've known Johnny."

In response to the strong and loud support for the sign, Kresimir says the city has informed him he now has 90 days to remove the sign and also indicated officials want to talk about the sign's future.

The city of Huntington Beach posted the following statement on its website: "The purpose of code enforcement efforts is not to penalize an establishment, but to ensure the safety of persons and structures. In that regard, the City must enforce its laws consistently and fairly, regardless of sign content. In this case, however, we understand the outpouring of support and have committed to working with the owner to make sure their tremendous dedicated to our Veterans can remain visible to the community."

Kresimir says he is waiting for the city of Huntington Beach to contact him so they can discuss the sign's future.

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