The legislation referred to was State Senate Bill 563, which would have allowed cities like Los Angeles to require the removal of billboards over a period of years without paying monetary compensation. The bill would have also removed a section of state law that “presumes” a billboard be legal if no official complaints have been lodged against it within five years.
In his press release, Delgadillo said “This legislation will give California some of the toughest billboard regulations in the nation, and put an end to the rampant outdoor advertising blighting our communities. When signed by the governor, this law will give cities and counties the ability to go after illegal billboards, pursue real sanctions against the worst violators, discourage future abuses, and reclaim our skyline.”
SB563, introduced by State Sen. Mark Ridley-Thomas, was opposed by the outdoor advertising industry and died in committee. Ridley-Thomas is now running for a seat on the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, and Delgadillo has had nothing further to say in public about what he intends to do to eliminate billboard blight or “reclaim” the city’s skyline. In fact, anti-blight activists requested meetings with him to discuss how they could support efforts to revive the bill, but he never responded.
And since that introduction of SB563, the media and others have raised issues about the city’s inability to get rid of illegal billboards. Public controversy has been generated about the supergraphic ads that wrap entire sides of buildings, the digital billboard conversions, the billboards on the freeways, the electronic signs proposed for the convention cente. And what have we heard from our city attorney about his efforts or even opinions—exactly nothing.
Given that Clear Channel and other billboard companies gave Delgadillo more than $450,000 of free billboard advertising during his initial election campaign, and given the fact that Delgadillo—according to several city council members—pressured the council to approve a lawsuit settlement with Clear Channel and others that was widely seen as a giveaway to the sign companies, this is hardly surprising.
However, when an elected official holds a press conference to proclaim himself an ally of those working every day to combat visual blight and the excesses of outdoor advertising, then does nothing further, those persons might be excused for feeling a little bit more cynical about the political process and the sincerity of those who purport to represent them.
Delgadillo cannot run for re-election, and hasn’t announced his candidacy for any other office. If he does, people might want consider what he says with a certain grain of salt.