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Three-month moratorium issued on new billboards in L.A.

December 17, 2008 |  3:02 pm

Billboard2 With neighborhood outrage rising over the proliferation of billboards and super-graphics wrapped around buildings, the Los Angeles City Council today approved a three-month moratorium on those signs to give the city time to replace its ineffective restrictions on outdoor advertising.

The temporary ban comes after years of court challenges and political maneuvering that has undermined existing city billboard regulations and allowed thousands of new billboards and new, brightly-lighted digital displays to pop up on the Los Angeles skyline.

The moratorium is intended to give the city time to craft a permanent and coherent billboard policy -- or consider an outright ban on the signs -- that could affect all aspects of outdoor advertising in the city, including roadside billboards and video commercials at gas station pumps.

“It is critical for us to get this in place before we go forward, Council President Eric Garcetti said. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has said that he will support the moratorium. At least one major billboard company, Clear Channel, warned the council before the vote that it might take legal action to block the ban.

Dennis Hathaway of the Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight has advocated a crackdown on billboards in Los Angeles. Hathaway said he was relieved to see the council approved the moratorium. “What we need is a ban, period. No off-site signs," Hathway said. “Other cities have done that, without a problem."

Under the moratorium, which received unanimous council approval, the city’s ban on issuing permits for billboards or super-graphics can be extended for an additional three months.

Exempted from the ban are companies that have commenced construction of signs that already have received a city permit. The city currently faces more than 25 lawsuits filed by outdoor advertising companies challenging city restrictions on the signs.

-- Phil Willon

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