No Transparency: L.A. City Council Committee and Billboard Legislation

Billboards like this one for the city's earthquake preparedness campaign went up prior to Englander's proposal for illegal billboard amnesty

Billboards like this one for the city’s earthquake preparedness campaign went up prior to Englander’s proposal to grant billboard amnesty.

At a meeting of the L.A. City Council’s PLUM committee on Dec. 16, 2014, Councilman Mitchell Englander told his fellow committee members that the city should grant “amnesty” to almost 1,000 billboards that either lacked permits or had been altered in violation of their permits. Failure to do this, he claimed, would embroil the city in time-consuming, expensive litigation.

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Violation? What Violation? Many Altered Billboards Left Off City’s List

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The billboard pictured above on Olympic Blvd. In L.A.’s Koreatown area is 16 feet higher than allowed by its permit, according to city inspection records. However, the sign owned by Outfront Media is nowhere to be found on a list of 391 billboards the city says have been altered in violation of their permits.

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Annals of Inaction: L.A.’s New Sign Ordinance

Sign Ordinance Urgent

People who have followed the twist and turns of the city’s long-running billboard wars may be surprised to learn that the Los Angeles City Planning Commission is tentatively scheduled to discuss a new citywide sign ordinance at its meeting on Sept. 24. Why surprised? Because all the way back in 2009 the commission held three lengthy public hearings on that very same ordinance before approving it and sending it on to the City Council.

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Who’ll Speak For the Trees? Improving Billboard Visibility.

5733 VeniceCan we stipulate that trees are more important than billboards?  Trees add natural character to urban areas, billboards create visual clutter.  Trees help clean the air, billboards–especially of the digital variety–use energy that contributes to global warming.  Trees provide places of rest and relaxation, billboards hawking goods and services are a kind of visual noise adding to the cacophony of the urban environment.

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L.A. Billboard Companies Spend Over $1 Million Lobbying in 1st Half of 2015

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Billboard companies seeking new laws allowing more digital billboards and legalizing unpermitted and out-of-compliance signs spent $1.1 million lobbying city council members and other officials in the first six months of 2015, according to City Ethics Commission reports.

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The Season For Giving: Billboard Companies Open Their Pockets For City Council Candidates

Lamar Advertising billboard for L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson

Lamar Advertising billboard for L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson

Los Angeles billboard companies and employees have contributed more than $78,000 to candidates running for six City Council seats in the March 3 primary election, according to the latest City Ethics Commission reports.

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Billboard Amnesty: Who’s Giving the City Council Legal Advice?

City Attorney Mike Feuer, left; City Councilman Mitchell Englander, right.  CBS Outdoor billboard in background has no city permit on file.

City Attorney Mike Feuer, left; City Councilman Mitchell Englander, right. CBS Outdoor billboard in background without a city permit on file.

At a Dec. 16 meeting of the L.A. City Council’s PLUM committee, Councilman Mitchell Englander proposed that some 1,000 billboards that either lack permits or have been altered in violation of their permits be legalized. This “amnesty” as Englander called it is necessary because any attempt to enforce the law against Clear Channel and other sign companies would land the city in court for years to come. Englander said “there’s no question in my mind” that the city would face litigation over the issue and that such litigation would “tie up incredibly valuable resources.”

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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…)

Holiday Gift: L.A. Politicians Want More Digital Billboards

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Christmas came early for Clear Channel and other billboard companies when a Los Angeles City Council committee decided Tuesday to press forward with plans that could allow hundreds of new digital billboards throughout the city and grant “amnesty” to more than 1,300 billboards that are either unpermitted or in violation of their permits.

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Big Brother is Watching You–From a Billboard

Big Brother

Ever since George Orwell’s now-classic novel “1984” was published in 1949, critics and others have speculated about the origin of the “Big Brother” character that keeps a constant eye on inhabitants of Orwell’s fictional country of Oceania. One has suggested that Orwell got the idea from billboard ads for a British correspondence course that featured the business owner’s image and the words, “Let Me Be Your Big Brother.”

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