Action Alert: Graphic Ads on Cars

Los Angeles is about to suffer an invasion of a new kind of advertising.
But it’s still possible to stop it. Maybe you have seen the digital ad signs on top of taxis, Uber and Lyft cars in the city. Here’s how they look:

These signs change every 8 seconds, just like digital billboards. Some of them are even animated. They’re made by a startup called Firefly, which just got $21 million in venture capital for a pilot launch in S.F. and L.A. Drivers can voluntarily bolt one of these atop their cars and earn money for each day driven.
Do we have to put up with this?
We already have ads on bus benches, bus shelters, street furniture, and businesses. Not to mention the thousands of billboards that litter our streets. These new Firefly signs have started to appear, taking digital advertising into literally every residential neighborhood in the city.
Maybe not.
The City Attorney filed a brief late last year saying that these signs violate the California Vehicle Code, because flashing, changing, and animation are prohibited on vehicles other than turn signals. And then L.A. Council Members Blumenfield and Harris-Dawson wrote a motion (Council File 19-0104) urging the City Council to follow state law and instruct the LAPD to start enforcing a ban on these signs. Thank you, council members.
The lobbyists rose up.
Of course they did. Firefly commissioned a legal brief which alleged that the City Attorney was misinterpreting the Vehicle Code. And that the signs are a source of revenue for drivers. And that the signs can be used for emergency and public service announcements (as if we needed them).
It’s time for you to rise up.
The council members’ motion is now before the City Council Transportation Committee. It needs some positive reinforcement. Send an e-mail message like the one below to the committee secretary: and mention the case file in your subject line: 19-0104. Send a copy to your own council member also if you like.
Here are some points to raise:
Dear Mr. White
Please convey to the members of the Transportation Committee my support for the motion offered on 1-29-19 by Council Members Blumenfield and Harris-Dawson. I too oppose the incursion of an entirely new form of digital advertising onto our streets. These “Firefly” signs are dangerous, ugly, distracting, and even illegal under the California Vehicle Code. Our visual environment is already burdened enough with the clutter of advertising, and these signs will take rotating digital ads into every neighborhood of the city, including residential neighborhoods where they have never been before. We need to stop this now before it spreads any further.
Do it soon.
The motion will come before the Transportation Committee in the next few weeks, and then it will go to the full council. The time to write is now.

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