Lamar Advertising: Blighting L.A.’s Poorest Neighborhoods

South L.A. Billboard Blight

Do all billboards constitute visual blight? Many would say yes, others would say that billboards on the Sunset Strip, in Hollywood, in the L.A. Live area downtown actually enhance the character of those areas.  But surely everyone would agree that  billboards with decrepit ad copy that hasn’t changed for months and rusted, graffiti-ridden structures are eyesores that have a negative effect on property values and business activity.

The billboards above are just a sample of many that can be seen in South L.A., a community disproportionately afflicted by poverty and a lack of economic development. They were photographed on a single day in a 30-block section of Central Ave. and Avalon Blvd.

The billboards belong to Lamar Advertising, a nationwide outdoor advertising company headquartered in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  Last year, the company’s revenue exceeded $1 billion.

Headquarters of Lamar Advertising

Headquarters of Lamar Advertising

The signs were originally owned by Vista Media Group, a division of Entravision, the Spanish-language multimedia giant, but were sold last year to Lamar Advertising for $100 million.   The company has an estimated 4,200 billboards in L.A.

Vista Media Group was the first company to sue the city in 2002 challenging its off-site sign inspection program, and the first to settle its lawsuit, in 2005.  In that lawsuit settlement, the company conceded that at least 500 of its billboards were unpermitted and agreed to remove them.  The company also agreed to a maintenance stipulation calling for a $1,500 fine for any billboard cited for being in poor repair and not fixed within 30 days.

As of late last year, according to a report from the city building department, not a single billboard had been removed, nor had any been cited for failure to be properly maintained. Why not let the company know what you think about the blight caused by their billboards.  Sent an e-mail to Hal P. Kilshaw, Vice President, Governmental Relations at hkilshaw@lamar.com

Dennis Hathaway

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