Judge Says 2006 Lawsuit Settlement Allowing Digital Billboards in L.A. is Illegal, Calls Agreement Between City and Billboard Companies “Poison”
Superior Court Judge Terry Green ruled today that the lawsuit settlement giving Clear Channel and CBS Outdoor the right to convert 840 conventional billboards to digital violated the law by exempting those conversions from any zoning regulations or requirements for notice and public hearings.
Judge Green took under advisement the question of the legality of the permits issued thus far for 101 digital billboard conversions. Lawyers for Summit Media, the billboard company that sued the city to overturn the lawsuit settlement, argued that the permits should also be voided. The attorney representing Clear Channel and CBS Outdoor, which earlier joined the lawsuit on the city’s side, countered that the companies operated in good faith in procuring the permits, and voiding them would be a “huge unfairness.”
The city’s current off-site sign ban prohibits both new billboards and modifications to existing ones, so there doesn’t appear to be any way the companies could get new permits if the existing ones are voided. Whether or not that would force the companies to remove their digital billboards is unknown.
Today’s action comes more than two years after the Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight filed a court action to block the lawsuit settlement approved by the City Council in September, 2006. That action, which made many of the same arguments cited by Judge Green, was rejected by another Superior Court judge on the grounds that the organization did not have standing with the court because its members could not show they were harmed by the settlement.
For more about the settlement and the issues involved, read: