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Is the Tide Turning?

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Last week’s SoCal Connected story on billboards seems to have gotten the attention of our city’s leaders. Today, the Planning and Land Use Management Commission voted to initiate what’s called an “interim control ordinance’ regarding the conversion to digital billboards. In simple terms, the commission voted to draft a report outlining a one-year moratorium on digital billboard conversions. Commission President Jane Usher said, “I’m tired of the city of LA being the doormat for the billboard industry.” It was tough talk I haven’t heard from any city leaders since I started looking into this story.

Before the planning commission voted to initiate the moratorium, a surprising development occurred. Five or six deputy city attorneys walked into the hearing room and one of them, David Michelson, announced that the city attorney’s office is recommending the city council authorize a six month ban on ALL signs - digital, tradition, even supergraphics. During this six month period, the city attorney’s office would work with city officials to draft yet another set of laws attempting to control the signs of LA. The city council may vote on this next week. It’s a bold move on the city attorney’s part, but many activists who were present seemed to have little hope it would make a difference given the city attorney’s office previous actions on billboard blight. Dennis Hathaway, president of the Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight stated, “It’s like asking the fox to design the security system for the hen house.”

I’ve been taken aback by all the billboard-related motions city leaders have introduced in just the last week. There seems to have been a silence on the topic for years, and virtually no discussion of the environmental and safety impacts of these digital billboards. Now, the tide is turning and we’ll see if there really is the political will to clean up the signs of LA. We’ll be watching.

RELATED RESOURCES:

Outdoor Advertising Association of America
The John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising and Marketing History at Duke University
Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight
Scenic America
West LA Online

RELATED STORIES:

Billboard Confidential - By Correspondent Vince Gonzales - Los Angeles is the billboard capital of the nation and some are saying it is an environmental disaster - a disaster that doesn’t seem to be getting the attention of city leaders.




Commentary - By Sam Hall Kaplan - Sam Hall Kaplan, the former design critic for the L.A. Times and an Emmy-award winning former reporter for Fox News, praises billboards in Los Angeles, believing an array of brilliant, blinking conceits will mark LA as the creative capital of the world.


WEB ORIGINAL:

Ad-Buster - By Web Team - Billboard Liberators: Graffiti artists use illegal billboards in Los Angeles as giant canvases.




FROM THE BLOG:

Graffiti Is The Poor Man's Advertising Campaign - By Too Tall Jahmal - As long as our cities are filled with advertising they will be filled with graffiti.



LEAVE A COMMENT Leave Comment  

I am glad SoCal Connected ran the story on Billboard Blight and thrilled it caught the attention of the Deputy City Attorneys. I wish the LA City Council would view their constituency instead of the campaign contributors who happen to own billboard/advertising companies. While I agree it's unfair for the biggest billboard companies/largest campaign contributors to be granted permission to erect as many billboards possible, regardless of the environmental blight it causes, compared to the little guys that are shut out, I am more concerned about the safety aspect of the electronic/digital billboards that are so bright at night that they blind drivers! Additionally, they're almost identical to POP-UP ads on the Internet -- Impossible to ignore, annoying, and horribly distracting. When I'm driving I try to keep my attention on the traffic. I've driven behind drivers on Sunset Blvd in the West Hollywood area who were so distracted reading the Billboards that they actually become driving hazards to everyone on the road. To make matters worse, a lot of drivers looking at the numerous billboards and talking on their cellphones while driving compounds the drivng hazard caused by Billboards. Lastly, some of the billboards border on soft core porn in the West Hollywood area. Urban Blight, Safety Hazard, Borderline Obscene! Something's has to be done and thank you for your interest in seeing some laws and controls to prevent further billboard blight.

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