The promotional street banner, which says "San Clemente, Love It," is being removed after a local resident questioned whether its image of a Christian cross is compatible with separation of church and state law, according to an OC Register story published Monday.
The banner is one of about 80 banners the Chamber of Commerce displays on light poles along the city's main highway. The banner drawing the complaint depicts a tower at San Clemente Presbyterian Church. Other banners depict beach scenes, a skateboarder and various themes reflecting the town's charm.
George Scarborough, San Clemente's city manager, asked the Chamber of Commerce this week to swap the banner depicting the cross for a different theme after consulting with the city attorney and concluding "there is a potential legal issue."
Susan Pierce sent an e-mail to San Clemente Mayor Lori Donchak on Oct. 29 saying she had noticed the banner and that "it seems to be inappropriate on public property," according to the Register story.
Lynn Wood, chief executive of the chamber, said the banners promoting San Clemente have lined El Camino Real for five or six years. "You know, it's just beautiful pictures of different scenes in San Clemente," she said. "And that's a scene of San Clemente."
Wood said she believes San Clemente was one of the first cities to display these types of banners. "We get tons of calls on these banners," she said. "We had different cities calling us and asking how we did it. There's other cities that it's catching on with because it's so pretty and it's so unique to the town."
Wood told the Register that the banners are popular and that Phil Tessier, who produces the banners for the chamber from photographs, makes miniature versions for people who want copies.
"This is the first time we've had someone want us to take something down," Wood said.
Photo: OC Register