Councilman Tom LaBonge: Don’t Allow Any Sign Districts Outside Downtown L.A.

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Councilman Tom LaBonge

L.A. City Councilman Tom LaBonge has sent a letter to Ed Reyes, chairman of the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management (PLUM) committee, asking that the new sign ordinance under consideration be amended to allow sign districts only in the downtown area. 

 LaBonge, whose council district 4 encompasses such diverse areas as Griffith Park, the Wilshire Blvd. Miracle Mile, and parts of Hollywood, said,  “Limiting sign districts to downtown would curb visual clutter in other areas of the city.  I am a great admirer of architecture and it concerns me to see beautiful buildings covered in advertisements.”

The ordinance now being considered by PLUM would limit sign districts to 20 areas designated in the city’s general plan as regional center or regional commercial.  These are areas considered suitable for intensive commercial development. 

Signs prohibited elsewhere, such as off-site advertising signs and digital signs, would be allowed in sign districts.  Property owners wanting to establish a sign district would have to meet a number of conditions, including the takedown of billboards in the surrounding community at a more than 1:1 ratio to the new signs put up.

There are now two sign districts in L.A.  One covers the major commercial streets of Hollywood, and the second encompasses an MTA bus lot south of downtown.  A third sign district, in the downtown area, has been approved by the City Planning Commission but hasn’t yet been voted on by the City Council.

The PLUM committee held an initial hearing on the new sign ordinance April 21, but took no action.  A number of motions directing the Planning Department to draft amendments to strengthen the ordinance were introduced by committee member Jack Weiss.

The committee is scheduled to take up the amended ordinance on May 12.

Dennis Hathaway

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