Los Angeles activist Dennis Hathaway has been elected president of the Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight. Hathaway says he is putting together an action plan “to make a concerted effort to effectively fight the city and billboard companies.”
In addition, Hathaway says he hopes to educate the public about the threat posed by digital billboards and “supergraphic” signs that wrap around buildings, and to “bring pressure to bear upon the city to get serious about protecting its neighborhoods from this form of blight.”
“Those who do not want garish, brilliantly-lighted commercial messages glaring in their faces everywhere they go must have a voice in city hall, to counter the voices of the industry lobbyists who have long had the ears of our city officials,” says Hathaway, a retired building contractor and construction manager. “At the very least, the city must enforce its laws against an industry that has been operating as if there aren't any laws, and bringing political pressure to bear on the city councilpersons and other elected officials can bring that about.”
Los Angeles activist Dennis Hathaway (right) and Los Angeles Councilman Jack Weiss join forces to fight a “supergraphic” company earlier this year.
Hathaway has played a pivotal role in fighting billboard blight in Los Angeles since 2005, when Metro Lights signs started popping up in his Venice neighborhood. He soon learned about the lawsuit Metro Lights filed against the City of Los Angeles, as well as the litigation brought against the city by Clear Channel Outdoor, CBS Outdoor, Regency Outdoor and Vista Media.
“When the city settled that lawsuit on terms that looked like a terrible giveaway to the companies,” Hathaway decided to join the Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight. In December of 2006, the Coalition filed a lawsuit challenging the city’s settlement brokered by City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo. A judge rejected the lawsuit but that didn’t stop Hathaway and the Coalition from pressuring the city to get rid of illegal signs.
Since then, the Coalition has stopped a giant video billboard from making its home on the Korean Consulate building on Wilshire Boulevard. The Coalition was also instrumental in ridding the city of a large “supergraphic” sign on the side of a building in Venice.
Hathaway is also a member of the Venice Neighborhood Council's Land Use and Planning Committee, and active with community groups working on issues of affordable housing and homelessness.