The Chinese developer of the Metropolis project now rising beside the 110 Freeway in downtown L.A. might be excused for wondering why there’s any fuss over its bid to exempt the billion-dollar retail, hotel and condo complex from a state law forbidding commercial advertising visible to freeway traffic.
Update: A day after the following post, the Mayor’s office announced that Ms. Lee was asking that her name be withdrawn from consideration for appointment to the commission.
A new mayor’s appointments to boards and commissions don’t usually stir up much fuss, but Eric Garcetti’s naming of a real estate company executive to the West L.A. Area Planning Commission has raised the hackles of community leaders who spent considerable energy during the past decade doing battle against the blight created by unpermitted billboards and supergraphic signs.
When a proposal to put 50,000 sq. ft. of billboards on the facade of the L.A. Convention Center came before the City Planning Commission two years ago, one element got a big raspberry from commissioners. That was the plan for billboards covering much of the distinctive glass entry towers designed in the early 90’s by the firm founded by world-renowned architect I.M. Pei.
The I-10/ Highway 100 (sic) interchange has an estimated 550,000 vehicles pass through the area per day, making it one of the most heavily traveled intersections in the United States. Consequently, it features a high level of saturation from an advertising standpoint. There are already numerous billboards located adjacent to the interchange–many of which are controlled by LA Outdoor and CBS Outdoor–making the area susceptible to clutter and advertising overload.–From Draft Memorandum of Understanding between City of Los Angeles and Anschutz Entertainment Group, which calls for 41 new signs totaling almost 50,000 sq. ft. in that area.
At last Monday’s town hall meeting on a proposed NFL stadium and convention center expansion downtown, AEG president Tim Leiweke said that revenue from advertising signs on the convention center facade would help pay debt service on the nearly $300 million in bonds the city would issue to finance that expansion. But even though Leiweke spoke of commitments and guaranteed revenue from advertisers, that signage proposed for the freeway-facing facade at the heavily trafficked confluence of the 10 and 110 freeways has never been approved by the city council.
Until recently, southbound motorists on the 110 freeway near the L.A. Convention center were greeted with huge fabric Pepsi signs draped over two sides of a seven-level parking garage. On Highland Ave. in Hollywood, an even larger Pepsi sign hung from the side of a historic building housing a film archive, dominating the view from blocks away. And for several months, the familiar Pepsi logo adorned a building alongside the 405 freeway in West L.A. (more…)
Philip Anschutz is best known in Los Angeles as the absentee owner of downtown’s Staples Center and the L.A. Live entertainment complex. But the Colorado billionaire is also founder of The Foundation For a Better Life, a nationwide non-profit that makes extensive use of billboards for the display of messages promoting “inspirational” values such as courage, compassion, and responsibility, among others. (more…)
The L.A. Building Department should not have issued permits for three digital billboards on Westwood and Santa Monica Boulevards, according to a unanimous vote of the West L.A. Area Planning Commission. The decision, which cannot be further appealed, means that the full-sized billboards with their brilliantly lighted, rapidly changing images that have aroused numerous complaints from surrounding neighborhoods are now operating without lawful permission from the city. The decision also throws into question the legal status of the other 90-plus digital billboards operating in other parts of West L.A., Hollywood, the midtown area, Venice, and the San Fernando Valley.
On July 9, the L.A. City Planning Commission will be asked to approve more than 50,000 square feet of advertising signage on the L.A. Convention Center, almost half of it on the long façade that directly faces the confluence of the Harbor and Santa Monica freeways, one of the busiest and most complex freeway intersections in the city.
Next Monday, May 11, the city planning department will hold an initial hearing on the permissions needed for the nearly 50,000 sq. ft. of advertising signage proposed last year for the façade of the L.A. convention center. The controversial proposal would have placed digital signs with changing messages directly facing the intersection of the Santa Monica and Harbor freeways, one of the most heavily-traveled in the city, but a revised submittal has changed those to non-electronic signs.