A Perfect Storm On Billboard Issues: Three Critical Meetings This Week

This week, three critically important meetings will be held at city hall on billboard issues that will directly affect the city’s ability to control outdoor advertising for many years to come.  If people can attend any or all of these meetings, or just send an e-mail supporting strong sign regulations and defense of our public spaces, they can make a real difference.

Tuesdaythe City Council Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) Committee will consider a motion to begin the process of rewriting the city’s sign ordinance to address legal issues sign companies have raised to successfully circumvent the city’s 2002 ban on new billboards and other forms of “off-site” advertising.   Sign company lobbyists will no doubt oppose significant toughening of regulations, so it is very important that members of the public who want to call a halt to the increasing visual blight and intrusiveness of billboards demand a voice in the rewriting of the ordinance, which is to be done by the city planning department in consultation with the city attorney and department of building and safety.  In addition, the city should place a moratorium on any discretionary approval of signs or special sign districts until this process is complete.

The meeting will be held at 2 p.m. at city hall at the Board of Public Works Edward Roybal Hearing room, 350.  Send comments to Barbara Greaves, Legislative Assistant, at 213 978-1068, or e-mail barbara.greaves@lacity.org.  To see the agenda, click here.

Wednesday, the City Council will consider a proposal to give a private company the right to put up electronic signs on the publicly-owned L.A. Convention Center.  This is an extremely important moment in the history of billboard regulation in the city, because it signals the first large-scale surrender of the visual environment to outdoor advertising by selling space on public buildings.  If you can find the time to attend this meeting, please make every effort to do so.  The council meeting begins at 10 a.m.  Click here for the agenda and council file.

Thursday, the City Planning Commission will meet to consider a municipal ordinance change designed to address the recent abuse of a provision allowing new billboards and signs to be erected in supplemental use districts.   The provision was intended for areas with special characteristics, such as parts of Hollywood, and the Staples Center area downtown, where such things as electronic signs might be appropriate.  There are numerous pending proposals for sign districts, and most are simply attempts to circumvent off-site sign regulations, such as the recent designation of an MTA bus lot alongside the 10 freeway to allow the erection of two gigantic digital billboards.  Click here for the planning department recommendation report. The meeting begins at 8:30 a.m. in Room 1010, city hall.  Send comments to CPC@lacity.org.
Be sure to reference Case #CPC-2008-2315-CA.

Dennis Hathaway

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