Legislation and Jurisprudence: L.A. Billboards 2014

L.A. City Council PLUM committee, from left: Mitchell Englander; Jose Huizar; chairman; Gilbert Cedillo.

L.A. City Council PLUM committee, from left: Mitchell Englander; Jose Huizar; chairman; Gilbert Cedillo.  Digital billboard at 4004 Linclon Blvd., photo taken 2012.

The major developments on the billboard front in 2014 came near the end of the year, with a major court ruling and a move by a city council committee, both of which could have devastating effects on efforts to control billboard blight.  Here’s what happened:   (more…)

Three Years and Counting: Alcohol Ads Ban Reaches L.A. City Council

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Beer and liquor ads on bus shelters and other items of street furniture have long been a common feature of the Los Angeles streetscape, but their demise moved closer to reality this week when the City Attorney sent an ordinance banning alcohol advertising on public property to the City Council.

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More Billboards Coming To Los Angeles? Judge Rules City’s Off-Site Sign Ban Unconstitutional

Lamar Advertising has won a major court battle in its fight to put up new digital billboards like this one in Los Angeles

Lamar Advertising has won a major court battle in its fight to put up new digital billboards like this one in Los Angeles

Los Angeles has been trying to shed its label as the country’s billboard capital, but Clear Channel and other companies pushing to put up new digital billboards got a major boost this week when a Superior Court judge ruled that the city’s ban on new off-site signs violates the free speech guarantee of the California state constitution.

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L.A. Billboard Companies Maintain Big Lobbying Push in 2014

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With major signage issues pending before the City Council, L.A. billboard companies spent just over $1 million lobbying city officials in the first six months of 2014, according to City Ethics Commission reports.  Reports are required to be filed quarterly, and the three-month period ending June 30 marked the sixth straight quarter that billboard companies paid more than half a million dollars to firms to lobby on their behalf.

As usual, the leader of the lobbying parade was Clear Channel Outdoor, the billboard division of the Texas media giant, Clear Channel Communications.  The company that has mounted a highly-visible public effort to persuade the City Council to allow more digital billboards paid four different lobbying firms a total of $241,000 for the six-month period.

Others writing big checks to lobbyists were CBS Outdoor, at $195,000; JC Decaux, at $189,00; and Lamar Advertising, at $136,000.  CBS Outdoor and Lamar, along with Clear Channel, are also members of the Los Angeles Outdoor Advertising Coalition, which spent $122,972 to influence city decision-makers.

Louisiana-based Lamar is suing the city to force it to issue permits for 45 new digital billboards.   JC Decaux, a French company with international operations, holds the current advertising contract for LAX and other city airports.

Other lobbying expenditures by billboard companies are as follows:

Regency Outdoor    $62,727
Van Wagner $60,111   (note: Van Wagner billboards were recently acquired by CBS Outdoor)
Summit Media $28,937
National Promotions & Advertising  $12,075
Titan Outdoor $7,500

The Ethics Commission reports show that a total of 23 lobbying firms were registered to lobby on behalf of one or more of the nine billboard companies.

L.A. City Council Moves To Ban Booze Ads On Street Furniture

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Ads for beer, whiskey, vodka and other alcohol beverages commonly seen on bus shelters, kiosks, and other items of street furniture became an endangered species yesterday when the City Council directed the City Attorney to draw up an ordinance banning such advertising on city-owned property.

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Movie Ratings, Gun Violence, and Street Furniture Ads

Bus bench ad for upcoming movie, 22 Jump Street

Bus bench ad for upcoming movie, 22 Jump Street

The list of reasons for giving the soon-to-be released movie “22 Jump Street” an “R” rating include depictions of violence. From the evidence of the ads like the one above prominently displayed on billboards and other signs around Los Angeles, at least some of that violence involves the use of guns.

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L.A. Billboard Companies Doubled Down on Lobbying in 2013

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Clear Channel, CBS Outdoor, and other billboard companies spent $2.8 million lobbying Los Angeles city officials in 2013, according to City Ethics Commission reports. That’s more than double the $1.2 million spent by those companies in 2012 to influence City Council members and other officeholders.

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Billboard Companies Ramp Up Lobbying in 2013

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Billboard companies spent almost $700,000 lobbying Los Angeles city officials in the first quarter of this year, according to City Ethics Commission records. That’s a threefold increase over the amount the companies spent in the same three-month period of 2012.

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L.A. Billboard Companies Ramped Up Lobbying in 2012

Advertisement at LAX terminal.  The airport advertising contract is held by JC Decaux, which spent $345,000 lobbying city officials last year.

Nissan ad at LAX terminal. The airport advertising contract is held by JC Decaux, which spent $345,000 lobbying city officials last year.

Billboard companies spent over $1.23 million lobbying City Council members and other public officials in 2012, according to reports filed with the City Ethics Commmission. That figure is almost 50 per cent higher than the amount the companies paid to lobbyists in 2011.

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Gun Violence and the Visual Landscape of Los Angeles

This large billboard currently at the 20th Century Fox studio in L.A. is directly across the street from a public park.

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The subject of gun violence is drawing widespread scrutiny right now in the aftermath of the horrific Connecticut school shooting that left 20 young children and eight adults dead.  In Los Angeles, images of gun violence are common on billboards and other outdoor advertising, sometimes in close proximity to places where young people go to school, take public transportation, and otherwise congregate.  Here is a small sampling of those advertisements.

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