In a strong rebuke of the Los Angeles City Council, which did not conduct a single discussion of safety issues before approving hundreds of digital billboards that have now begun to sweep across Los Angeles, California State Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles) proposed a law Friday to ban LED billboards until 2012.
Feuer's law would halt the dramatic digital transformation which has begun hitting unsuspecting neighborhoods in Los Angeles — and to give city leaders two years' breathing room to await the outcome of three highway studies into the potential traffic hazards pose by the distracting, brightly-lit screens.
Until basic safety research
is completed by state and federal officials, “It is premature,
certainly, for these digital billboards to sprout up all over
California,” says Feuer.
City Council members had quietly approved over 800 digital billboards
for virtually every neighborhood of L.A. The most controversial have
appeared in Silver Lake, the Hollywood Hills and around Westwood, where
furious residents are demanding they be stopped and removed.
Feuer's entry into the billboard wars
is freighted with irony. He himself is a former Los Angeles
councilman, who lost a bid to become City Attorney in 2001 to Rocky
Delgadillo — a loss some say was partly due to the pro-billboard
Delgadillo taking more than $400,000 in free billboard space from outdoor advertising companies who slappedDelgadillo's smiling face across the city.
is asking questions never asked by the City Council, which has gained a
reputation for helping turn L.A. into the capital of the illegal
billboard industry: “What happens if the study is complete and they
find they are dangerous? That would be a bad outcome. They are already
up. It would be very expensive. At that point, one has to deal with how
to get rid of them. It would be very costly…Why would we want
billboards to proliferate only to learn that there is a great danger to
Feuer says the moratorium would apply to all roads and
highways in Los Angeles and California. The moratorium – if passed –
would also prevent Clear Channel Outdoor from proceeding with its
widely derided idea to place commercial ads on freeway Amber Alert signs.
One of the three digital billboard-safety studies is being conducted
by the Federal Highway Administration, which has launched a
multimillion-dollar study to find out whether the changing electronic
messages pose a road hazard.
Last month, the City Council approved a three-month moratorium
after digital billboards began popping up from Baldwin Heights to
Venice and community residents became enraged. The moratorium is
supposed to be used by city bureaucrats to strengthen weak billboard