California bar fighting City Hall over sign supporting veterans

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A California bar owner is asking veterans to rally behind him after claiming that the city of Huntington Beach is ordering him to remove a sign on his roof that salutes those who served.

The city says it's all a big mistake -- that the issue really is about permits, not wording. But the bar's co-owner, in turn, claims the city is not being truthful and says there's "something fishy" about the whole situation.

The center of the dispute, an illuminated sign on the roof of Johnny’s Saloon, proclaims, “THANK a VETERAN for your FREEDOM” and is popular among the bar’s clientele–a lot of former soldiers.

But an anonymous person reportedly complained to the city and the bar owners now say the city is forcing them to take it down.

According to local reports, the owners of Johnny’s, John Marovic and Johnny Kresimir, say  they received a letter in the mail this week from the city ,stating that they were required to remove the sign within two days or face nearly $1,000 in fines.

Kresimir has taken to the Internet, saying he intends to fight the order.

“We will fight for the sign bc that sign NEEDS to be where Veterans can see it,” Kresimir wrote on a post to his Facebook profile, “And it needs to be where kids can see it and make them think and not forget the sacrifice our Veterans have made!!!!”

Officials for the city of Huntington Beach tell that there has been a big misunderstanding.

“It is not the message. It’s the structure itself,” a spokesperson for the city said adding that they cannot locate proper permits and that the sign does not have to be removed if the owners have proper permits and the structure is up to code.

Huntington Beach Mayor Connie Boardman also released a statement Tuesday saying, “The City of Huntington Beach respects our Veterans and honors them in many ways. Our ceremonies honoring Veterans, the formation of the 3-1-1 Marine Foundation and our memorial at City Hall, are only a few examples of how seriously we take the support of our community’s Veterans and Armed Forces.”

The statement adds that a code enforcement officer for the city simply left a notice for the bar owners to contact the city for any permits issued.

But Kresimir tells that this is not the case and officials only relented after local media coverage.

“As of this morning, they removed the order to remove the sign within two days and invited me to come down and talk with them,” he said, adding that the city’s statement is false.

“That’s not the case. I don’t want to get into a back and forth, but I will post the original notice on social media if I have to.”

Kresmir also believes that there never was an anonymous complaint.

“I can’t see how a passerby would drive by and see that the sign violates a city ordinance. The law was changed years ago without any business owners knowing. Something is really fishy about this,” he said.

Many across the country have taken to the web in support of Johnny’s Saloon, leaving messages of support on the bar’s Facebook Page.

“I've never been here but I plan on visiting now that I hear the city wants to take your sign down. I support your decision to leave it up. God bless,” read a post from one well wisher.

Another supporter in Raleigh, North Carolina left the following message:

“We just wrote on your behalf to the city council! Our veterans sacrificed daily comforts, family life, blood and their very lives for our country. The sign should stay up!”