City planners are causing a stir with a report released today that calls for banning all new digital billboards — with a huge exception.

The much-anticipated Department of City Planning Recommendation Report, obtained early by L.A. Weekly, comes just weeks after the Los Angeles City Council approved a three-month moratorium on billboards and supergraphics, bowing to community outrage over the super-intense digital billboards now popping up from Baldwin Heights to Venice.

“Considering the estimated 10,000 existing billboards in the city, in addition to many more signs of other types that could be retrofitted with digital technology, there is a high likelihood that the cumulative impacts of these signs would be exceedingly negative for the citizens of Los Angeles,” blasts the report.

But not so fast. The report also suggests one very big loophole: It allows the bright, energy-sucking LED signs, which contain nearly one-half million light bulbs, “within certain unique areas as designated by Sign Districts, where their impacts can be mitigated by appropriate control measures in a local context, but they are not compatible with the needs and plans of the city as a whole.”

State Assemblymember Mike Feuer
(Photo: Christine Pelisek)

So if you live in a City Council district whose representative is pushing hard for a so-called Sign District — Jan Perry and Herb Wesson among them — your streets could become a focal point for heavy concentrations of these blinding digital outdoor ads.

The plan has to be approved by the Planning Commission, then make its way to full City Council – the same city council that voted to allow Clear Channel Outdoor, CBS Outdoor and Regency, as part of a sweetheart settlement agreement, to “digitally modernize” more than 800 old-style billboards without asking the community for its input.

The 36-page report was released the same day that California State Assemblymember and former Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Feuer called for state legislation that would ban digital billboards in California until 2012 so that state and city officials could review safety studies now underway by the Federal Highway Administration and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

At his City Hall press conference today, Feuer, who was flanked by Planning Commissioner Mike Woo and City Council members Garcetti, Wendy Greuel, Bill Rosendahl, Ed Reyes and Jack Weiss, called for a state law that would slap billboard firms with a $3,500 per day fine for violating the digital ban.

LA Weekly