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Map: All the Billboards in Los Angeles (With or Without a Permit)

Special Series: Billboard Confidential

Updated 6:57 p.m. on 11/20 (see below)

Last week the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety quietly posted the location and permit status of every billboard structure in the city, and an early analysis shows that nearly 10 percent have no permit on file.

In addition, roughly a third of the 5,874 billboard structures in Los Angeles were reported by the city's own inspectors to have possible code violations.

We've put together an interactive map so you can see just where each one is, who owns it, what kind of code it may be violating, whether it has a permit on file, and more, all without leaving home.

Below we've also tallied which companies have the most billboards, the most un-permitted signs, and the most possible code violations. But first, we could use your help getting more out of this treasure trove of data.

We've plotted the billboards, but it takes time to verify that what the city is reporting matches reality. Use the tips below to explore the map and get right down to the street level. And if you find an error, please leave a comment to notify us so we can check it out.

How to Use the Billboard Map

  • Go full screen: Click the "full screen" button to make it easier to explore. When you're finished, just click the same button again to exit full-screen mode.

  • Zoom in: The blue circles represent a cluster of billboards, too many to show all at once. Zoom in to see the individual markers appear (green for permitted, red for un-permitted).

  • Use "Street View": Click on a green or red icon to see information about the billboard structure. Then click the "Street View" button to look for it on the ground.

  • Addresses are approximate: You may have to move around, pan, and zoom in street view to find the right billboard.

  • Use the "Location Notes": Some records include notes from the survey describing the physical location of the billboard structure. If you can't find it right away, these notes may help.

Note: The LADBS survey included 197 billboard structures without any clear address information. Those signs have been omitted from the map until we can confirm their exact locations. Also, some billboard structures

Source: Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety, First Billboard Survey (Nov. 1, 2012)


Source: Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety, First Billboard Survey (Nov. 1, 2012)

As you can see from the charts, not all billboards have been matched to a sign company. There are still a lot of gaps to be filled, which is unsurprising given the city's history of letting sign companies play fast and loose with the rules when putting up new billboards.

For more background, check out our series "Billboard Confidential." "SoCal Connected" producer Karen Foshay has been following the story of L.A.'s outgrowth of urban signage since the show's first season.

UPDATE (6:57 p.m. on 11/20/12): The city's survey indicates that nearly all of the un-permitted billboards are "presumed legal" under California Business and Professions Code Section 5216.1. That code would appear to indicate that if the city fails to notify the owner of a billboard within five years that it is illegal, then it is essentially grandfathered in:

“Lawfully erected” means, in reference to advertising displays, advertising displays which were erected in compliance with state laws and local ordinances in effect at the time of their erection or which were subsequently brought into full compliance with state laws and local ordinances, except that the term does not apply to any advertising display whose use is modified after erection in a manner which causes it to become illegal. There shall be a rebuttable presumption pursuant to Section 606 of the Evidence Code that an advertising display is lawfully erected if it has been in existence for a period of five years or longer without the owner having received written notice during that period from a governmental entity stating that the display was not lawfully erected.

Based on the data provided by LADBS, only seven billboard structures were not reported as presumed lawful. We have listed those structures below along with the owner and address:

Billboard Case No.CompanyAddress
254801UNKNOWN1107 W James M Wood Blvd
256739L.A. OUTDOOR1322 W 12th Pl
257387L.A. OUTDOOR1636 S Wall St
257389L.A. OUTDOOR1440 E 17th St
259392REGENCY OUTDOOR7095 W Hollywood Blvd
261237UNKNOWN1314 W 12th St
270956UNKNOWN1306 W 11th St

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A recent California appellate court decision raises the question of whether billboard companies can rely on the state law quoted above to claim that billboards erected or altered without permits are "lawfully erected." In a case involving a supergraphic sign in downtown Los Angeles, the court said that this assumption of legality can be rebutted in a case where a sign company or property owner never applied for a permit, even if five years has passed without the sign being cited by the city.

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