LA City Council Looking for Revenue: May Add More Bright Digital Billboard Lights to Your Neighborhood
- Written by Bob Blue
19 Oct 2012
BILLBOARD WATCH - On Tuesday, the City Council voted to set up a “working group” in an attempt to cut a deal with CBS Outdoor and Clear Channel Outdoor before the California Court of Appeals hears oral arguments at the end of this month and comes to a decision in about 2 to 3 months.
Councilmembers Eric Garcetti, Paul Koretz, and Tom LaBonge voted against this proposal under Council File No. 12-1611.
Dennis Hathaway, president of The Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight, a longtime opponent of digital billboards, has pointed out what’s at stake by LA City Councilmen Paul Krekorian’s and Ed Reyes’ ill advised attempt to circumvent the judicial process – 100 digital billboards that have been in legal limbo ever since 2009 when a Superior Court judge nullified a settlement negotiated by then-City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo with CBS Outdoor and Clear Channel Outdoor that had given both companies special rights to convert more than 800 of their conventional billboards to digital.
Reyes and Krekorian are at odds with their own legal Counsel, the City Attorney. Their motion states in part “The City could potentially face legal and financial risks as a result, and potential disputes related to the settlement agreements could impact City resources regardless of how the court rules.”
But the City Attorney’s opinion contradicts that part of Reyes and Krekorian’s motion and takes issue with any liabilities that the City would face. According to the LA Times, Chief Deputy City Attorney Bill Carter said “the city faces no liability if the court orders the existing digital billboards removed” because the original deal with CBS and Clear Channel protected the city from paying any damages if a third party successfully challenged it.
What about the risks and impacts to the public of keeping digital billboards?
Digital Billboards impact the environment by consuming precious electricity and cause visual blight and light trespass in people's homes and apartments.
Digital billboards threaten public safety by causing a major distraction to motorists. The distraction caused by the bright, flashing, and ever changing digital images is similar to the risks posed by driving and texting which is now outlawed state-wide.
In November of 2009, Councilmember Koretz emphasized his concerns: “Digital signs, whether on-site or off-site, illuminate the sky day and night with constantly changing images. This bright, distracting and out-of-context digital advertising causes visual blight, impedes traffic safety and is simply not appropriate for the neighborhoods of CD 5.”
In the same year, District 13 City Councilman Eric Garcetti stated "I'd also like to see a reduction of (digital billboards), if we can't do an outright elimination of all of them."
Keep your eyes and ears open as the working group moves forward to any agreement by signing up at The Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight, but don’t forget your sunglasses (or welding goggles) if you are passing by one of LA’s brightest: A Clear Channel or CBS Outdoor digital billboard.
And be ready to let all LA City Councilmembers know that you would like to eliminate digital billboards in Los Angeles instead of cutting any sweetheart deals with Clear Channel and CBS Outdoor.
Vol 10 Issue 84
Pub: Oct 16, 2012