BY BRANDON JOHANSSON
The Aurora Sentinel
Published: Wednesday, March 3, 2010 6:47 AM MST
AURORA | A massive coffee-shop banner at East Iliff Avenue and South Peoria Street boasting a bikini-clad barista is raising the ire of city officials and area residents.
But despite their concerns, there isn’t much opponents can do about the 10-foot-by-20-foot banner adorned with a swimsuit-wearing woman clutching a cup of coffee.
City Councilwoman Molly Markert, who represents the neighborhood that includes Perky Cups, a coffee shop with bikini-wearing baristas, said city officials have looked into the banner and it appears to be legal.
“Those things aren’t things the city can legislate,” Markert said.
Markert said she spotted the big pink banner late Saturday night and by early Sunday morning, she had the city’s neighborhoods services division at the coffee shop, measuring the banner and making sure it didn’t violate the city’s code.
Robert Rogers, the city attorney who looked into the banner, said the city can only regulate the banner’s size, placement and timing. The content, he said, is protected by the First Amendment.
“That’s all the courts will allow,” he said.
While the banner appears to be perfectly legal, Markert said she finds it distasteful.
“It’s degrading to women,” she said.
And Markert said she isn’t alone. She said about 10 people have called her since Sunday to complain about the banner.
City Council’s Neighborhood Services committee will discuss banners next month, Markert said, and the Perky Cups banner will likely be part of the discussion.
Jason Bernal, the owner of Perky Cups and the man behind the banner, said he put it up Saturday afternoon.
He said he wanted the banner to be as big as possible, but he also wanted to make sure he didn’t break any rules.
The city’s rules say business banners can be a maximum of 200 square feet. To meet that requirement, Bernal said he had to take down some other banners to make room for the massive one.
As for the criticisms, Bernal said he has heard a few.
One customer came in and berated his wife over the sign, he said. Another came in and complained, but still bought a burrito and cup of coffee.
As for the contention that sign is offensive and degrading to women, Bernal said a picture of a young lady in a bikini isn’t anything to get upset about.
“If that’s true they will need to shut down Utah Park because there is a pool there and there are women in bikinis there all the time,” he said.
Bernal said the sign has been great for business, but he isn’t sure how long he will keep it up in the face of growing criticism.
“I would love to leave it up forever, but I’m getting beat up,” he said. “I want to be a good neighbor, so probably it won’t last too long.”
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