Seven years ago, just a few days before Christmas, a construction crew pulled up to a lot on the north side of the 110 freeway in downtown L.A. and proceeded to erect a 60 ft. high, double sided billboard. Less than 50 ft. from the freeway in the Staples Center/L.A. Live area, its two 700 sq. ft. faces would broadcast ads for such products as fast food, computers, and financial services to nearly 300,000 motorists every day.
Does anyone out there believe that the final chapter of the city’s digital billboard saga has been written? That the collection of black billboard faces pasted into the visual landscape like minimalist art pieces is Clear Channel and CBS Outdoor’s farewell gesture to long-suffering residents of the city?
Billboard companies and their employees have contributed $162,000 to this year’s municipal election campaigns, according to City Ethics Commission records.
The final death knell for the 101 digital billboards now flashing their brilliantly-lighted ads on city streets may have been sounded yesterday, when the California Supreme Court refused to review a lower court ruling that says the permits issued for the signs must be revoked.
On Jan. 22, 2009, the president of the L.A. City Planning Commission gaveled to order a meeting in which the major agenda item was an extensive revision of the ordinance regulating billboards and other forms of outdoor advertising in the city. On Dec. 4, 2012, after numerous public meetings and further revisions by city planners, that ordinance was before members of the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management committee, fully vetted by the City Attorney’s office and ready to be voted upon.
As in the past, deserving recipients greatly outnumbered the available awards. And some of the winners of the 1st Annual Ban Billboard Blight Awards could easily have repeated if we hadn’t limited the awards to first-time contenders. At the risk of appearing overly negative, we again have given these awards to individuals, companies, and others for less-than-admirable deeds. But that doesn’t mean the city’s visual environment didn’t have some honorable defenders, among them several elected and appointed officials, as well as community activists whose good deeds go unsung but certainly not unappreciated.
A lawsuit has been filed in L.A. County Superior Court seeking to force disclosure of the location, legal status, and ownership of every billboard in the city of L.A. The suit contends that the city’s refusal to make public this information gathered by a citywide billboard inventory and inspection program is a clear violation of California’s Public Records Act.
Michael McNeilly, the self-proclaimed Beverly Hills artist who first gained noteriety by painting a large patriotic mural on the side of a Westwood office building and then converting it to a commercial advertisement was hit yesterday with a lawsuit seeking millions in damages for that sign and other supergraphic signs put up without permits on buildings in a wide area of Los Angeles. The lawsuit filed by City Attorney Carmen Trutanich also names 21 property owners who allegedly allowed McNeilly to put up illegal signs, including a prominent developer who has received city loans and subsidies.
Hope Springs Eternal: Hollywood Property Owner Seeks U.S. Supreme Court Review of Supergraphic Sign Ban
The owner of two Sunset Blvd. office buildings is asking the high court to review an appeals court opinion rejecting a claim that the city violated the owner’s constitutional rights by refusing to issue permits for 8-story high supergraphic signs on the faces of the buildings.
The prospect of electronic ads on the sides of Santa Monica buses that also run on L.A. streets has drawn sharply-worded criticism from L.A. City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, who expressed concerns about public safety and the environmental impacts of the bright, rapidly-changing signs.