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Court of Appeals Rules City Council Billboard Settlement Was Illegal

In the latest development to a story we've been following for four years, the state's Second Court of Appeals ruled today to void a 2006 settlement between the L.A. City Council and Clear Channel, CBS Outdoor, and Regency.

The agreement allowed the companies to convert some 800 signs into digital billboards. However, rival billboard company Summit Media, the plaintiff in this case, complained it was excluded from the "sweetheart deal." It also argued that, aside from the preferential treatment, the 2006 deal made the new signs illegal, as it violated a 2002 ban on new billboards passed by the city council. The appellate court agreed that circumventing the previous ban was "invalid and unenforceable."

The judges went a step further by requiring the city to revoke the permits issued under the 2006 settlement deal. In setting that requirement, they overruled the trial court, which held that revocation was an "administrative issue, to be decided on a sign by sign basis."

On Tuesday, the planning commission is expected to discuss the city's latest revision to the billboard ordinance, which includes tougher penalties for putting up illegal signs and fines for not taking them down when ordered to do so, according to Dennis Hathaway of the Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight.

A spokesperson for Clear Channel Outdoor told "SoCal Connected," "We respectfully disagree with the court's ruling and are in the process of reviewing the court's complete opinion."

Benjamin Gottlieb contributed to this report.

FOR THE RECORD: An earlier version of this story stated that the appeals court had "stopped short" of ordering billboard permits to be revoked, and instead decided to leave such matters to the city. In fact, that was the trial court's opinion, which was overruled by the appellate judges in this case. The story has been corrected accordingly.

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