During last week’s City Council debate on a new ordinance permanently banning supergraphic signs and digital billboards, Councilmember Jan Perry said that while she had favored new billboards “where it makes sense” she had actively supported a settlement agreement that “provided us with resources for a park, and resulted in the removal of 35 signs on the westside of Los Angeles.”
Where such a figure comes from is unclear. The agreement Perry referred to is obviously one settling a lawsuit brought by Clear Channel against the MTA seven years ago, after the company removed 14 billboards to make way for widening and improvement of Santa Monica Blvd. between the 405 freeway and Beverly Hills. Under terms of that settlement, the MTA agreed to sell a bus maintenance facility in South L.A. to the city in exchange for entitlements allowing Clear Channel to erect four billboards on a bus yard beside the 10 freeway downtown.
The South L.A. property is now being developed into a Wetlands Park. Perry’s office did not respond to an e-mail inquiry asking for clarification of the Councilmember’s statement.
During last year’s debate over allowing the new full-sized billboards—two of which are digital—on the freeway bus yard, Perry openly accused opponents from the westside of the city as being out of touch with the needs of her constituents living in park-poor south L.A. At the time, she claimed that allowing the freeway billboards was part of a deal to remove the 14 Clear Channel billboards on Santa Monica Blvd., and implied that westside residents should be grateful for her efforts.
However, the billboards were removed long before the Wetlands Park and freeway billboard proposals were brought before the city council, and the lawsuit brought by Clear Channel only sought monetary damages from the MTA, not the right to erect new billboards. Likewise, a 2002 announcement by then-Mayor James Hahn about the billboard removal makes no mention of any connection with the Wetlands Park or the freeway billboards.
For more on Perry, the Wetlands Park, and the freeway billboards, read:
- Parks, Billboards & LA’s Self-defeating Ways
- Perry Plays the Divide and Conquer Card
- Trading Freeway Safety for Wetlands Park: Here’s What the Council Should do
- It’s a Page from Orwell: Council Tells Us Black is White