Why L.A.'s Latest Billboard Fix Won't Work

There are signs that the Los Angeles City Council's just-adopted billboard moratorium, purportedly designed to give officials time to crack down on the forest of 10,000 billboards. One possible result is that pro-billboard factions in City Hall now see an opening to wipe out a billboard ban currently on the books. (A draft of a new billboard ordinance proposed by city planners will be available tomorrow at a press conference held by California State Assemblyman Mike Feuer.) 

Mike Feuer: Man of the hour?

One stratagem city officials might use is a so-called "time, place,

manner" restriction, that would end the 2002 Los Angeles billboard ban.

Although the proponents of this idea claim it would make it easier for

the Department of Building and Safety to punish renegade firms who

stick illegal billboards willy-nilly around the city, it would also be

a cave-in to the wave of ultra-bright digital billboards that are

enraging Los Angeles residents.

A city planner told L.A. Weekly that such "time, place, manner" rules do not have the legal teeth to prevent the spread, citywide, of more than 800 LED billboards

that were quietly approved by the City Council as part of a 2006

sweetheart deal with industry titans Clear Channel Outdoor, CBS Outdoor

and Regency.

If city officials abandon the longtime billboard

ban, Angelenos might still get a temporary reprieve from the hated

digital ads, says Feuer. Last Friday Feuer proposed a statewide ban on LED advertisements on all California city and state roadways.

Feuer

says his proposed statewide billboard ban would trump existing

agreements and court rulings that are allowing the big outdoor

advertisers to convert old traditional billboards into digital

billboards that can be seen for up to four miles. Under his temporary

ban, that would last until 2012, "Those billboards in Los Angeles could

not be converted," he said.  

So will Feuer fix LA's billboard

boondoggle? If history is any guide, the odds of it even passing the

Senate are dim. An earlier bill authored by former State Senator Mark

Ridley-Thomas, who is now a Los Angeles County Supervisor, and backed

by L.A. City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, went nowhere in Sacramento,

where billboard-industry money is spread around like a cold in

kindergarten.


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