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Everyone Will Be Talking Billboards Tomorrow

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Tomorrow the City Planning Commission will be taking up the new draft sign ordinance, a 122-page beast of a document that attempts to cohesively set forth a set of rules regarding signage. You'll remember that a three-month moratorium was put in place on all new billboards and signs to give the city adequate time to come up with a better sign policy. Tomorrow, the commission can ask for amendments or move the ordinance forward. Meanwhile, the ordinance has been posted on the city's web site and already there's been reaction to it.

---Dennis Hathaway, Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight: He likes that the policy bans electronic billboards, huge supergraphic ads, and generally reduces the amount of signage that can go up. What he doesn't like, and what seems to be troubling to most critics of the ordinance: "One, the proposed ordinance removes any distinction between on-site and off-site advertising. The off-site sign ban in the current ordinance would be consigned to the trash, and every advertising sign in the city would be subject to the same regulations regardless of its content. In other words, your corner dry cleaners could have a sign advertising burgers or cellphones, as long as it met size and placement restrictions." Also, he doesn't like that the city is endorsing sign districts that would allow their own unique sign regulations, which could include digital signs and supergraphic signs.
----Jane Usher. Yes, the ex-head of the Planning Commission has written up her critique of the plan and sent it to the commission. Among other things, Usher worries about some of the phrasing of the ordinance, for example, the separate sign allowances for each individual "premise."

She writes: "This distinction seems ripe for abuse. What would prevent a property owner from creating dozens and dozens of alleged “premises”? Additionally, she worries about enforcement, a long-standing problem with signs. She writes: "The revisions are poised to go forward without a serious protocol regarding reduction of existing signs, enforcement, and penalties. Is it appropriate to offer this paper tiger palliative? For as long as the profits from illegal signs dramatically exceed any penalties that can be recovered, the exercise of adopting new sign rules cannot reasonably be expected to alter or curtail illegal behavior. " PDF of Usher's analysis is here.

----Central City Association: Blogdowntown reports that the Central City Association, which represents downtown businesses, has weighed in, sending a letter to the Planning Commission. The CCA's worry: The "one-size fits all" approach to new rules regarding advertising signage. The blog quotes the letter sent to the Planning Commission:

"The ordinance does not give any special consideration to high-rise buildings, imposing the same 35-foot height and 100-foot size restrictions on signs in Downtown. Such signage would be out-of- proportion on tall buildings and further impede Downtown’s efforts to retain and attract new retail, advertise residential units and install identifying building signage, such as the sign on the U.S Bank Tower. Cultural institutions like MOCA and the Walt Disney Concert Hall – which currently advertise exhibits with temporary banners and displays that have ranged from 900 to 1500 square feet – would be at risk if the 100 square-foot size and 30-day duration limits are imposed. Narrow lots with high-rise buildings will be subject to the same one-for-one foot ratio as low-rise buildings throughout the City."
· New Billboard Ban Passes [Curbed LA]
· Debate Set to Start on Reworked Sign Rules [Blogdowntown]