Last week, the Los Angeles City Council approved a deal that could lead to dozens of monster-size billboards and video displays to be mounted on the outer walls of the Los Angeles Convention Center – aimed at tens of thousands of motorists driving by one of the most congested intersections in America.

The City Council's decision grants exclusive “signage rights” to wealthy Anschutz Entertainment Group, owners of the Staples Center and major contributors to the political campaigns of several city leaders.

Still facing final approval by a city commission, city council vote as well as Caltrans, the proposed deal allows the firm controlled by Colorado billionaire Phil Anschutz, which also manages the $2.5 billion LA Live entertainment venue, to erect a massive 50,000 square feet of billboards and flashing electronic signs –the equivalent of 74 full-sized billboards – on the outer walls of the city-owned Convention Center.

Yesterday, the Los Angeles Times reported that the state senate jumped into the fray Tuesday night, voting down a bill sponsored by pro-Anschutz politicians that would have created a special exemption to the state ban on new freeway billboards for certain projects, including LA Live, Staples Center and the Los Angeles Convention Center.

The bill voted down by the state Senate would have taken Caltrans, which enforces state billboard laws, out of the picture.

The effort was led by an Assembly member from Redlands and Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas (D-Los Angeles), who brought the bill to the Senate. Four other senators who represent parts of L.A. voted for the bill, while three voted against it, according to the Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight.

The Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight also published on its website a computer of what the L.A. Convention Center might look like when it gets that 50,000 square feet of advertising signage. Yikes!

The Coalition said that just one full-sized electronic billboard is the equivalent to the annual energy use of 13 average houses.

“And much of the 50,000 square feet of signage will be electronic,” says Coalition president Dennis Hathaway. “What does that say about the city council’s commitment to making L.A. a “green” city?”


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