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Big Billboards Equal Big Issue for West Hollywood Elections: Watch Out For Measure A

Measure A: the Trojan Horse of tall wall billboards for WeHo
Measure A: the Trojan Horse of tall wall billboards for WeHo
BanBillboardBlight.org

Originally posted 3/2/11: See update at the end of the post: Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and Congressman Henry Waxman both oppose Measure A.

Measure A is expected to bring several hundred new voters out to the polls in West Hollywood on March 8.

If adopted, Measure A will allow tall wall billboards throughout the city, where they are currently prohibited.

The disturbing thing: the campaign for Measure A is quite misleading. Glossy mailers harp that this is the time to stick it to billboard co.'s -- and tax those billboards.

REALITY CHECK: Measure A is being fully funded by one supergraphic tall wall billboard company, SKY TAG.

One word to describe the feel of SKY TAG's vision? Vegas.

As reported by WeHo News:

The majority of those mailers come from the West Hollywood Residents to Tax Billboard Companies Yes on Measure A, which is wholly created, sponsored and fully paid for by West Hollywood resident Michael McNeilly, controversial Tall Wall (Supergraphic) purveyor who boasts that his SkyTag Inc. signs are so large and bright they can be seen from space.

Steven Afriat, longtime West Hollywood insider and campaign manager for 'No on Measure A,' tells L.A. Weekly that the real goal of Measure A is to legalize 'tall wall' advertising in various parts of WeHo.

"Measure A will create a new level of turnout because of the outrageous nature of the measure," Afriat tells the Weekly.

In a 'No on Measure A' campaign statement from City Councilmember Jeffrey Prang, he urges:

"Outdoor advertising (tall walls & billboards) is so lucrative in West Hollywood, it is reasonable to expect that commercial property owners in the newly permitted areas will demolish smaller buildings to build taller structures that will qualify for outdoor advertising, as allowed under Measure A - bringing more oversized and unwanted development and the parking and traffic issues that accompany new development."

Prang also says:

"The 'Billboard Tax' in Measure A is illegal under California Law. Even the measure's author knows that the tax will never be implemented ...

Measure A takes away the City's ability to regulate supergraphic tall walls before they get final permits. This means that no one is checking to see if they are safe, built correctly or not lit so brightly that they will endanger drivers and glare into your homes and businesses."

L.A. Weekly cover story 'Dethroning West Hollywood's Martinets' by Patrick Range McDonald, reminds that West Hollywood could use some new voter turn out - to voice a say on Measure A, and also to add some new blood to its rather stale City Council.

In West Hollywood's 27-year history, only one candidate who ran without official backing from a sitting City Council member has ever won an election, and that happened 17 years ago, in 1994, when firebrand Steve Martin pulled off an upset victory. Martin also happens to be the only incumbent in the history of West Hollywood voted off of the City Council, when he lost his re-election bid in 2003. The facts make one thing very clear: Incumbents have a stranglehold on power, with very little fresh blood or new ideas coming into City Hall.

Update: Excerpts from a "No on A" Press Release:

Congressman Waxman and Supervisor Yaroslavsky -- who both represent the citizens of West Hollywood in their respective legislative bodies -- join a growing coalition of elected and community leaders and organizations that are opposing Measure A.

"I am writing in opposition to Measure A," said Congressman Waxman in a letter to the City of West Hollywood. "Since the measure would take away local control of important decision-making authority over billboard placement, I do not believe it would serve the best interest of West Hollywood residents and business."

"Measure A is a misleading proposal," said Supervisor Yaroslavsky. "It proposes an unconstitutional tax as a subterfuge for the real goal: allowing supergraphic 'tall wall' signs on Beverly and Santa Monica Boulevards without any public input. That's why every resident group in West Hollywood is opposed to Measure A. I urge you to vote No on Measure A."

Contact Mars Melnicoff at mmelnicoff@laweekly.com / follow @marsmelnicoff


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