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Proposal to tax billboards, supergraphics heads to L.A. City Council committee for a vote

A plan to ask voters to impose a new tax on outdoor advertisements heads to a committee of the Los Angeles City Council this week.

The council’s Budget and Finance Committee is scheduled to meet Monday to review a plan to seek a 12% excise tax on billboards and supergraphics, which are vinyl images stretched across the sides of buildings.

City officials said they have modeled the ballot proposal on a tax approved in 2005 in Philadelphia, which has already survived a court challenge. The council must decide by Nov. 3 whether to ask City Atty. Carmen Trutanich to draft ballot language for the March 8 municipal election.

The proposed tax comes as Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and council members are bracing for a budget shortfall of nearly $320 million next year. If approved, the billboard tax would generate $24 million annually for the city’s general fund, which pays for basic services such as public safety, parks and libraries.

After reviewing business tax records, advisers to the council have concluded that sign companies have collected $227 million annually from billboard and supergraphic advertising over the last two years.

-- David Zahniser

Comments () | Archives (13)

That's a tax I can live with. Make it large.

VERY bad idea. This creates a serious monetary incentive for the council to allow these billboards to cover every last square inch of the city in order to maximize the taxes from them.

If done, the tax should at least not be related to how many billboards a company posts or where they post them whether they are allowed permission to do them. Make it a general tax on a company that wants to post such billboards, but make no guarantee they will be approved to do so. That is, basically, an application fee, not a tax paid if they are approved to put up the billboard.

Billboards okay to increase the taxes.
Supergraphics? How about $1,000 a MINUTE?

How about the city life within the budget? It is always new taxes or fees to balance the balance. The Pint Size Mayor, and the city council needs to stop these backroom deals, and giving hand outs to big business as AEG.

It must be a disease that infects the rational mind. Get elected to Office and the lure of taxation becomes a drug. The thought of lowering taxes and repealing some regulations that are killing the job market is just something a Politician can not do. Why...., it might cause them to rule with less hold on your wallet....

How about cutting spending and capping pensions? No more "double-dipping" and capping the collection of any monetary compensation by the City to $125k, including pensions and cutting off the dependent's of former City employeees at 21 years of age?

On one hand, do we need billboards? No - they are ugly and rarely display anything that changes anyone's life.

On the other hand, it sends another anti-business message.

Los Angeles is poorly managed and taxes like this come of desperation.

Even for billboards, the tax route on them is wrong, Billboards do not enhance a neighborhood. Look at places like Glendale that pretty much ban billboards, or even big signs naming a business inside the building, and how much more attractive they are than Los Angeles. Los Angeles is uglified by billboards all over the place.

Bankruptcy please! $24 million on a budget shortfall of $320 million. Not even a dent-start with the fraud, tax evaders, illegal businesses, glut in city government and then check back with me--until then...learn to budget!

"Well Jose, we're gonna have to let you go. The city just imposed a huge tax on our advertising and we rely on that for sales. The amount they're double dipping on (because we already pay tax to operate in the city) is just about what it costs to keep you and Billy on payroll so, we're gonna have to let you go.

God bless the LA city council in their infinate wisdom.

Anyone remember what happened with the Feds imposed a 10% luxury tax on boats back in 1991? What makes anyone think this is going to do any different?

For those who don't remember..... http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D0CE4DC1239F932A15754C0A967958260

Keep the billboards in South Park (in an area bounded by the 110, Venice, Flower, and 9th), and on Hollywood Blvd, between La Brea and Highland.

And billboards and supergraphics HAVE made these parts of the city look better, by covering up plain, dull architecture. Taking them away from those areas would do more harm than good, I promise you.

There is NO reason why we can't restrict this industry rather than ban it. City leaders need to have the balls to defend these limitations.

The TAX BILLBOARD ACT has qualified for the March, 2011 Ballot in West Hollywood...L.A. should do the same...

Billion Dollar Billboards in West Hollywood
“Tax Billboard Act” Initiative will generate millions for the City of West Hollywood
Tens of millions of dollars in advertising revenues are received each year by billboard companies from billboards, large screen video displays, tall walls and other off-site signs. Yet, under current law, the billboard companies pay virtually no taxes to West Hollywood for the privilege of being allowed to advertise in the city.
For decades, the citizens of West Hollywood have been forced to live with billboards, tall walls, large screen video displays and other off-site signs, while billboard companies have received over a billion dollars in advertising revenues and West Hollywood has become the sign capitol of California. The time is now for billboard companies to pay their fair share to the City of West Hollywood for this privilege.
This initiative would correct this inequity and provide new revenue for the City to provide added municipal services to the residents of West Hollywood. A 7% excise tax on advertising revenues received from the lease of billboards, video signs, tall walls or other off site signs in West Hollywood would be paid to the City and deposited into the General Fund for expanding City services.
The new revenue would benefit West Hollywood in enhancing current municipal services and permit an expansion of many community projects and services, including expanding Aids/HIV treatment and prevention programs, adding community public spaces such as pocket parks and public enhancements for the new library, public safety funding for sheriff services and first responders and continued funding of cultural affairs and community events.
Whether you love billboards or hate them, all agree that they impact the experience of living in West Hollywood and have resulted in massive financial gains to the billboard companies. In fairness, billboard companies should be required to give back a fair share of these revenues to the community through the "Tax Billboard Act" Initiative.
Support the West Hollywood quality of life. Support the “Tax Billboard Act” Initiative. www.TaxBillboardAct.com


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