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L.A. council members hear from residents angered about digital billboards

Pressure is building on members of the Los Angeles City Council to remove 101 digital billboards across the city, now that a judge has struck down a key settlement. But after hearing from more than 30 speakers today, members of a council committee put off making any recommendation to their colleagues.
The illuminated signs were erected under a 2006 agreement between the city and two outdoor advertising companies. That settlement was struck down by a Superior Court judge earlier this month.
But as they weighed their legal options, members on the council’s planning and land use committee heard an earful from residents urging them to immediately remove the bright, flashing signs in their neighborhoods and convert them back to conventional billboards. At the same time, representatives from settlement participants Clear Channel Outdoor Inc. and CBS Outdoor Inc. — backed by several business groups — urged the committee not to act hastily because the firms are appealing the judge’s ruling.
Jan Reichmann, president of the Comstock Hills Homeowners Assn., told committee members that she and her neighbors were living in the shadow of a huge digital billboard on Santa Monica Boulevard in Westwood. “It’s time to end the suffering from the blinking lights flashing into our homes and backyards, and the nonstop noise emanating from the huge cooling fans,” Reichmann said.
Others reminded committee members that they have faced lengthy delays as they have tried to challenge individual billboards through the city’s appeals process.

“We urge you not to put us through this ineffective process one pixel at a time,” said Marilyn Cohon, vice president of the Westwood South of Santa Monica Homeowners Assn. “We must find a way to undo the damage created in our communities without putting us through this tortured and fruitless process. The illegally converted digital billboards must not be permitted to remain.”

But officials from Clear Channel Outdoor and CBS Outdoor, who were granted special rights under the 2006 legal settlement to convert 840 signs to digital, said the companies were acting lawfully when they converted the 101 signs.

“To consider reneging on this deal is fundamentally unfair and just can’t be the policy of this city,” said Anthony Roman, a public affairs representative with Clear Channel Outdoor. “It sends a terrible message to the business community [that] the city has no regard for its contractual commitments and that businesses will be punished for working with the city.”
City lawyers plan to brief council members as early as next week on the effect of the judge’s ruling. Councilman Ed Reyes said the city would not take any action before that report.
Reyes and Council President Eric Garcetti have proposed ordering city officials to “immediately evaluate” whether the 101 digital signs should be removed or modified.
-- Maeve Reston at L.A. City Hall
Comments () | Archives (7)

It was a stupid sell-out by Rocky, who got a cool half million $ from these billboard companies, and accepted a special Beverly Hills lavish party from Clear Channel just last year, complete with Ryan Seacrest as host, toward his bid for Attorney General. No thanks. Not only was this a lousy deal for the city, but just too CHEAP a sell-out: if you're going to pimp yourself out, do it like West Hollywood, which is getting upto $800,000/ year for one ever-changing and shared (by many companies) billboard on the Sunset Strip.

Unfortunately, the people suffering from that are residents of LOS ANGELES, those in the hills directly north - who also are suffering from the nightclubs and it will get a LOT worse as WeHo is planning mega-projects to compete with Hollywood/Highland. Hell will be defined as gridlock on the Strip which is even NOW the WORST (level "F") at every intersection most of the day. BUT while they hold the residents of L A in the hills north, its own residents in the flats nearby and commuters, hostage, at least they pimped themselves out for good bucks for each billboard - unlike dumb Rocky, the cheap sell-out.

What's pathetic is that L A is getting so little from each digital, the same few hundred bucks it got for small ones, that L A can't afford to hire inspectors to even find out how many billboards this city has, and hence to require these companies to take down the illegal ones. Pathetic - even Garcetti finally got mad about it last year.

BUT it's important to note that idiot City Attorney Trutanich is just grandstanding on this issue like he is on the gratuitous battle against all sales of pot he and Cooley have going - he and his mouthpiece Jane Usher have added NOTHING to this problem, besides dumping falsely on the councilmembers and using it to campaign on.

The council must weigh any advice he gives them carefully because so far, it's almost all been wrong and self-serving: he has threatened to jail AEG and Councilwoman Jan Perry when they arguably have permits for the signs they wanted - Trutanuch just wanted to score a quick "win" against AEG to grandstand and thump his chest with his buddy and enabler Dennis Zine.
While I think it's clear ClearChannel/CBS Outdoors took advantage of Rocky who didn't give the Council all the details when he pressured them to approve "or you'd be sued and lose" back in 06, they MAY have the upper hand now if the city takes down all the signs prematurely.

Pathetic as the City's financial losses are on these digital monsters, they COULD get worse. Trutanuch saying "I'd rip them all down" is hot air at this point. At this point, I agree that a bit of caution and another court decision is advisable - the Council MUST exert itself over Tratanuch the half-literate wildman.

Los Angeles City allows noise such as the noise of the cooling fans that vibrate and resonate in a torturous manner. There appears to be no recourse for LA City residents in regard to the noise torture sanctioned by City Hall and its departments.

Los Angeles is a city of torture using noise, vibration and lights, apparently all sanctioned by the LADBS and there is nothing we can do about it.

Informal inquiry at City Hall & LADBS about how to eliminate the noise torture has been met with the response of "if you don't like it then leave."

The business community of Los Angeles, is not part of a huge conglomerate entity that is CBS and Clear Channel. These signs should have never been permitted to be put up in the first place. City officials were just very greedy because of these huge companies shelling out large amounts of money to the city for these billboards. We will come to find out one day that these billboards are unhealthy, being so close to humans. But hey, money talks...

They should let the billboards stay, but also make vandalizing them legal.

Billboard, electronic or otherwise = ZERO social value!! Rip all of them down!!

A digital billboard is not going to kill anyone. Honestly some of you people are so stupid. It's called progress, morons.

Personally, I think executives of Clear Channel and CBS are risking becoming victims of violence over this. The communities they have damaged are furious and I've heard a number of people threaten to take action into their own hands.

I desperately hope I'm wrong, but if the city doesn't do something about these public nuisances (and they ARE massively disruptive) I'm afraid residents may do something to those responsible. The anger I've seen is THAT serious.


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