More Tesla Motors coverage

FREMONT -- Those wondering if Tesla Motors and Fremont will continue strengthening their relationship soon might see a sign.

A very large illuminated sign between Tesla's factory and Interstate 880, to be exact.

The electric car manufacturer wants to erect the towering, 6,300-square-foot advertising space outside its South Fremont compound, where it will promote its new vehicles.

The Fremont Planning Commission will consider Tesla's proposal Thursday night.

"It's big, but I think it's important for people to see that Tesla is here in Fremont," said Mayor Bill Harrison. "I support them branding themselves and them putting it out there that we're the home of Tesla."

FILE - This June 22, 2012 file photo shows a Tesla Model S outside the Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif.
FILE - This June 22, 2012 file photo shows a Tesla Model S outside the Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif. (Paul Sakuma/AP Photo)

The company's logo already is prominently displayed on the factory's facade next to I-880, near the Milpitas border.

Asked Wednesday why bigger, newer signage is needed, Tesla representative Koohyar Fard Arya replied: "Why do people put billboards anywhere?"

"Come to Thursday's meeting and see why," he said.

The company's press office declined to comment.

The 200-by-40-foot sign would be illuminated, according to a city report. The sign itself would be 30 feet high perched on a 10-foot column.

Fremont bans electronic signage with moving images but allows static images made more visible by lighting.

Tesla's sign can be twice as high as the city's 20-foot height limit for billboards because it does not fit the city's definition of a billboard, said James Willis, a Fremont planner.


Advertisement

"Billboards must be for rent, display off-site advertising and be on a site with one use," and Tesla's sign does none of those things, Willis said.

Though headquartered in Palo Alto, Tesla Motors is one of Fremont's largest employers, boasting around 4,000 employees in the city's biggest building, standing on a 212-acre property.

The property's grand size helped persuade city staffers to recommend approval for the company's proposal, Willis said.

"The sign is relatively in scale with the rest of the site," he said. "We wouldn't consider this for a small-size parcel."

The new sign would be the most visible part of the 850-acre Innovation Center, where Fremont envisions adding up to 4,000 housing units, 12,000 jobs, shopping, restaurants, hotel and convention facilities, and parks near the Warm Springs-South Fremont BART station, set to open at the end of next year.

Tesla has been the anchor of that vision and a good partner for Fremont, where the electric car company has opened a sales room, Harrison said.

"That allows us to capture some sales tax dollars," he said. "They're good corporate citizens for us, and we should be good partners for them."

Contact Chris De Benedetti at 510-353-7011. Follow him at Twitter.com/cdebenedetti.