Los Angeles' City Council voted 10-4 today to support a state moratorium on digital billboards. This will rankle billboard companies who claim that California assemblyman Mike Feuer's proposed law takes away local control just when City Hall is trying -- again -- to get a handle on billboard clutter.
Four council members refused to endorse Feuer's bill, AB 109: Richard Alarcon, Tony Cardenas, Bernard Parks and Ed Reyes. Alarcon offered the novel argument that Feuer's digital ban could give Sacramento an opening to divert "fees" from billboard companies away from L.A. coffers and into the state treasury.
That's an odd idea, since City Hall has utterly failed to
collect a single dollar in its widely ridiculed seven-year effort to
squeeze "inspection" fees out of the huge billboard firms -- and
Alarcon has been nowhere to be found during that fight.
Alarcon also called Feuer's proposed bill,
which would prohibit building any more of the the glaring, wildly
unpopular digital billboards in California until Jan. 1, 2012, a
``wolf in sheep's clothing,'' according to City News Service. He
managed to ignore years of City Council failure to act against
billboard blight, saying: ``On the face of it, I don't like the notion
that the state is controlling something that we should, frankly, step
up and have control of.''
Alarcon couldn't exactly be
described as a man out to control billboard proliferation. Last year,
he proposed to create the Valley's first "sign district,"
which would ignore local zoning and allow five giant billboards
totaling nearly 18,000 square feet in working class Panorama City -- an
area where residents have fought to make the streets more livable.
also voted - along with every other council member - for disastrous
settlements between the city and billboard giants that allowed Clear
Channel Outdoor, Regency Outdoor and CBS Outdoor to turn more than 800 longtime billboards in virtually every area of the city into ultra-intense LED digital billboards.
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Reyes, another billboard fan, also refused to back the Feuer ban today.
Like Alarcon, Reyes has proposed a "sign district" to allow massive new
billboards on the west side of the 110 Freeway downtown, on such
streets as Beaudry, Boylston, First, Second and Third.