Oral arguments will be heard in front of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal on June 4 in the case, Metro Lights, LLC vs. City of Los Angeles. The federal billboard case has dogged the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office since 2006 when a district court judge ruled that the cities “Street Furniture” program was unconstitutional.
The City Attorney's Office hopes that the panel of judges will overthrow that ruling.
In 2001, six months before City Hall erected a blanket ban on all new billboards, the city entered into a contract with CBS Decaux, which gave the advertising company a lucrative contract to sell and display advertising on bus shelters and kiosks. In return, the city would receive $150 million over the 20-year-term of the agreement.
Instead, the contract opened up a Pandora's box of litigation. It didn't take long before Metro Lights “movie poster” style signs that looked similar in size and shape to the cities “street furniture”started popping up.
In 2003, the city began citing the company for illegally erecting billboards. Metro Lights filed a federal lawsuit against the city arguing that it was unfair that the city could make money off its 3,300 street furniture program, tens of thousands of street banners and countless wall signs, murals and super graphics on public property but forbid similar advertising on private property. A judge agreed.
Since the 2006 federal ruling, a handful of other federal and state claims have been filed challenging the cities “street furniture' program.