Electric car maker Tesla wants to put up a giant sign near its Fremont factory that, if approved, would instantly become one of the Bay Area's biggest.
Fremont city leaders foresee heavy development in the area along Interstate 880 where Tesla is situated. In addition to a BART station, they want to add thousands of housing units and thousands of new jobs, too.
Tesla is an anchor of the plan – and the company has an idea to make sure its brand stands out: Tesla wants to put up a sign that’s 40-feet tall by 200-feet wide, as long as a hockey rink.
"We want people to know that they're in Fremont, Tesla's factory is in Fremont, and we're very proud of that,” said Bill Harrison, Fremont’s mayor.
That civic pride will, if approved, be on display, lit up and visible 24 hours a day along I-880, showing off one of the Bay Area's most successful companies.
California Highway Patrol officials said the agency isn’t concerned about the sign distracting drivers. Motorists NBC Bay Area spoke with agreed. Besides, San Jose driver Jim O'Brien said, “As long as it's not causing accidents, and it’s good for the company, it’s good for the Bay Area."
"They're a great company to have around,” Fremont resident Karen Kenaga said. “I have no problem with any kind of sign. We need the recognition."
Fremont has strict rules for the size of billboards, but the city says those don’t apply in this case because Tesla says it’s not a billboard, it’s a sign.
Harrison insists, it's not a sweetheart deal for Tesla, just good business for his city. “I think we'd be doing this if it wasn't Tesla,” Harrison said. “If there was a factory here producing something other than awesome cars, but employing over 4,000 people, I as mayor would make sure we're doing what we can to help them."
Tesla declined a request to comment on the sign, other than to say it will have more information available at Thursday night’s planning commission meeting, which was scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at Fremont City Hall.