The Los Angeles Planning Commission today put off voting for a plan that would regulate all new billboards and commercial signs in the city. The decision was made after a four-hour City Hall meeting in which dozens of anti-clutter activists, sign companies, business owners and lawyers complained that the proposal was fraught with problems and more public comment was needed.
At times the meeting got a little heated and, at one point, Planning
Commissioner Mike Woo alleviated some of the tension by getting a few laughs when he called on a muralist, who was weighing in on the
debate, to write a play called Sign Ordinance: Comedy, Tragedy or
Participants on both sides of the debate were relieved by the
postponed vote. Westwood resident Marilyn Cohon said the “voice of the
needs to be heard,” while Jeffrey Aran, the California Sign
Association's director of Government Affairs, who presented a
three-minute video on the benefits of signage, said a continuation was
needed to figure out the impact on business owners.
person who welcomed the respite was the Coalition to Ban Billboard
Blight's president, Dennis Hathaway, who had found the process of
public hearings deeply flawed.
“There have been problems in the ordinance from
the beginning, particularly regarding sign districts,” Hathaway emailed the L.A. Weekly. “We would prefer
that the sign district provision be dropped altogether, but short of
that it must include strict protections for residential neighborhoods
from the effects of the digital signage that will most certainly go up
in these districts.”
On January 22, the City planning department (which reports to the City Planning Commission) recommended
banning all digital billboards, large supergraphics and rooftop signs
citywide. However, the report also recommended that the height and size
of commercial business signs be limited. That recommendation enraged
many business groups who argued that the restrictions would negatively
affect business owners and prevent new businesses from opening up.
The planning commission will revisit the issue March 12.